Wild nature is a source of wonder and inspiration in part because of its aesthetic value. This paper gives an account of the aesthetic value of wilderness and argues that wild nature is especially likely to give rise to what it will call the transformative aesthetic experience. This account satisfies three criteria John Fisher suggests for a good account of nature’s aesthetic value that might provide reasons for preservation. First, it retains a credible connection with canonical aesthetic theory. Second, it allows us to make a general distinction between our appreciation of nature and art. Third, it avoids the ‘the human intervention’ or ‘positive value’ dilemma.[i] It explains what is especially important aesthetically about undeveloped nature, nature that is free from human intervention, without making ‘the appreciation of nature in mixed and influenced environments inexplicable.’[ii]
[i] J. Fisher. 2001. ‘Aesthetics,’ in A Companion to Environmental Philosophy. D. Jamieson ed. Blackwell Publishers: Massachusetts, 275.
[ii] Ibid, 275. While this would be necessary to justify environmental preservation on the basis of aesthetic value alone, this paper will only argue that we have a reason to value wild nature.
Hassoun, Nicole, "Wilderness, the Wild, and Aesthetic Appreciation" (2016). Philosophy Faculty Scholarship. 19.