Aesthetic and Moral Appreciation of Nature in Philosophical Traditions of China

  • Shan GaoEmail author
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 2)


In Chinese philosophy, nature is viewed as an organic system that is always in a self-generating process of production and reproduction of life. This view of nature is best expressed by the Chinese philosophers as sheng-sheng-bu-xi. The metaphysical foundation for this perspective of nature is ch’i, a core concept in Chinese philosophy as well as in Chinese everyday culture and worldview. The Chinese aesthetic appreciation of nature is also aesthetic appreciation of ch’i. Ch’i has no physical form and is invisible and it is always in an unceasing process of movement which produces and reproduces life. In Chinese philosophical traditions, especially Confucianism and Daoism, these two characteristic of ch’i are aesthetically expressed and appreciated as emptiness and creativity. The Chinese aesthetic appreciation of emptiness and creativity of ch’i can be best illustrated in traditional Chinese landscape painting. Nature has certain features or structures which trigger certain emotions in the subject; and the subject whose mind has structures similar to the structures or features of nature projects their cherished values onto nature.


Biocultural ethics ch’i Creativity Earth stewardship Emptiness Intercultural Self-realization 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, School of Politics and Public ManagementSoochow UniversitySuzhouChina

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