Environmental aesthetics in China: East-West dialogue

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2020


Environmental aesthetics in China: East-West dialogue



Holmes Rolston III


You are today out of place, as far as the East is from the West. Although having visited China a half dozen times, I found me out of place, too much a Westerner to be competent to give an intelligent contribution to Chinese environmental aesthetics. But I felt I could ask you some probing questions. Can Chinese landscapes be seen as works of art in terms of art and nature? Are Chinese three dimensional persons in terms of urban, rural and wild? Is China like no place else on earth in terms of residence in place? What on Chinese landscapes is ugly? How to comment such slogans as “beautiful China”, “eco-systemic China”? How to understand the environmental aesthetics and the environmental policy in China? After giving my answers to the questions, I conclude that Chinese are skilled by their long heritage at seeking harmony, at getting the whole picture and fitting parts into a more beautiful whole. I hope that would be the future of Chinese environmental aesthetics. Then, and only then, will Chinese flourish, and can Westerners learn from our dialogue with the East.