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Environmental Values

Nature, Engagement, Empathy: Yijing as a Chinese Ecological Aesthetics

Qi Li

Environmental Values 26 (2017): 343-364. doi: 10.3197/096327117X14913285800698

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The ancient aesthetics of yijing has played a crucial role in traditional Chinese philosophy, literature and art since the eighth century CE. Defined variously by early and contemporary writers, yijing links an artist's emotional domain to objects in the world. This article conceptualises yijing as an ecological aesthetics and distinguishes it from an environmental aesthetics. In particular, two aspects of yijing render it an eco-aesthetics: subject-object correspondence (or 'engagement'); and empathic identification with the environment (or 'bio-empathy'). Three brief case studies from urban planning, environmental conservation and the creative arts demonstrate the contemporary importance of yijing to ecological issues.


Chinese aesthetics, yijing, bio-empathy, eco-aesthetics, ecocriticism, sustainability

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Beyond the Anthropocene: Perspectives on Human-Nature Relations, Old and New. Marion Hourdequin

Movement, Wildness and Animal Aesthetics. Tom Greaves

Everyday Life Ecologies: Crisis, Transitions and the Aesth-Etics of Desire. Alice Dal Gobbo

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