painting has played a significant role in shaping practices of nature
appreciation in Western and Chinese cultures. Both cultures have also seen the
recent emergence of philosophical views of nature appreciation that stress the
importance of ecological understanding. However, these philosophical views
differ in their response to the influence of the landscape painting tradition:
whereas Western approaches have largely been critical, Chinese ecoaestheticians
have embraced it. In this paper, we explore this difference and argue that it
is not explained by differences between Western and Chinese art but by
differences in Western and Chinese philosophers’ conceptions of ecology. We
further argue that, even granting these differing conceptions of ecology,
consideration of the problematic aspects of the landscape painting tradition
remains a pressing concern for ecoaesthetics.
Chinese aesthetics; ecoaesthetics; landscape
painting; nature appreciation
painting has played a significant role in shaping practices of nature
appreciation in the West. However, recent philosophical discussion debates the impact of this legacy. The debate has been
driven by two main developments, the first of which is the rise of
environmentalism and a general concern for the environmental impact of various
practices, even practices of aesthetic appreciation. The second development is
the emergence, within philosophical aesthetics, of views emphasizing the
appreciation of nature as a natural environment to be understood on its own
terms. Proponents of such views have criticized the landscape painting
tradition as contributing to overly formalist or subjective appreciative
practices that fail to take nature on its own terms, thereby misconstruing it
as an aesthetic object, thwarting ethical treatment of the environment, or
both. These criticisms have focused on the role of
art-inspired models of appreciation in shaping practices that reduce the
natural environment to a backdrop for human activities or a scenic resource
understood in formalist terms.
is interesting to compare this situation to recent developments in Chinese
philosophy. In recent years, some Chinese philosophers have developed views on
the aesthetics of nature known as ecological aesthetics,
or simply ecoaesthetics. These views have affinities with some of the
Western views just mentioned. In particular, ecoaesthetics places emphasis on
the role of ecological knowledge in the aesthetic appreciation of nature. This
echoes the views of Western philosophers, such as Allen Carlson, who have
stressed the necessity of bringing a scientific understanding of nature to bear
in aesthetic appreciation. Proponents of ecoaesthetics have also voiced
complaints about contemporary appreciative practices similar to those raised by
Western philosophers. Xiangzhan Cheng, a leading proponent of the ecoaesthetics
[S]o-called natural beauty mainly refers to the
aesthetic quality of natural things, including their pleasant colors and forms
of things, enjoyable sound, seductive smells and so on. The most typical
example of this is the beauty of a natural landscape (i.e. scenic
beauty)….Because of this, beautiful natural landscapes have been despoiled.
notable point of difference between Chinese ecoaesthetics and Western views,
such as Carlson’s, however, is their attitude toward artistic models of
appreciation. China has a tradition of landscape painting older than that of
the West and just as influential in shaping cultural attitudes toward nature.
Furthermore, despite significant differences, traditional Chinese landscape
painting shares many general stylistic characteristics with Western landscape
art, including a preoccupation with certain types of scenery and an emphasis on
formal composition. Nonetheless, Cheng writes, "While it disapproves of
traditional aesthetic appreciation that is not ecologically oriented (or
without an ecological awareness), [Ecoaesthetics] does not necessarily oppose a
form of aesthetic enjoyment based on artistic form, so to speak." In fact, defenders of ecoaesthetics go further
and explicitly trace the origins of their conception of nature appreciation
directly to ideas inherent in the Chinese landscape painting tradition.
this paper, we examine this difference in attitude towards landscape painting,
as expressed in recent Chinese and Western nature aesthetics. After surveying
some specific concerns about artistic appreciation in the Western context, we
consider some distinctive characteristics of Chinese landscape art and its
appreciation, and attempt to explain its positive reception by defenders of
ecoaesthetics. We conclude by arguing that this more sympathetic approach to
artistic influences points to some important theoretical questions about the
ecoaesthetics position that remain unaddressed.
The Western landscape painting tradition and its critics
painting, as a distinct artistic genre in the West, arose in early
sixteenth-century Europe, with painters such as Nicolas Poussin, Salvatore
Rosa, and Claude Lorrain giving new depth and interest to the painterly
depiction of landscape. While by no means the sole factor, the popularity of
their works helped shape emerging European tastes in landscape over the next
two centuries. Concepts that became central to the appreciation
of nature in the eighteenth century, such as the sublime and the picturesque,
were strongly associated with the landscape painting tradition. The latter
association was particularly close, with the very notion of a picturesque
landscape harkening back to an ideal landscape painting. The emphasis on a framed, formally pleasing
picture as an aesthetic ideal for nature fostered an emphasis on scenic views of
the landscape: views possessing properties such as symmetry and balance, and
"compositional features, such as having a background, a middle ground, and
a foreground, and nominal subject matter, such as high land, water, encircling
vegetation, and perhaps a few individual figures centered in the middle." Modern approaches to landscape aesthetics that
continue to emphasize scenic, that is, formally pleasing, views can trace their
lineage back to the early influences of the landscape painting tradition.
criticism of these influences has focused on the landscape tradition’s focus on
certain formal features of natural environments, in particular visual design
qualities of landscapes. It has also taken issue with a second tendency
associated with the artistic tradition, that of viewing landscape in terms of
its associations with human history, rendering nature as a prop or background
in a human-centered drama. In this view, nature lacks aesthetic interest per se. There are two problems, critics claim, with
these approaches. First, they mischaracterize nature as an aesthetic object,
since nature is not a two-dimensional arrangement of formal qualities, like a
picture, nor is it merely a palimpsest for human feeling or association. It is,
rather, an object in its own right, namely an environment that originates and
operates according to the principles of natural history and ecology. As such,
aesthetic appreciation of nature, insofar as it has been shaped by the
landscape painting tradition, is claimed to be inappropriate or defective, in
much the way that an appreciation of an artwork as if it were something other
than an artwork would be inappropriate or defective. One obvious manifestation of this is a devaluing
of landscapes lacking certain preferred features.
critics have charged these appreciative practices with encouraging
environmental imprudence. Widespread practices of viewing nature in humanized
terms or mainly in terms of formal aesthetic values have had important
implications for human-nature interactions. As Marcia Eaton has argued,
decisions about environmental interventions and practices are complicated when
public perceptions of nature and its value are based on considerations detached
from ecological reality. Thus, the artistic approach is charged with
encouraging an overly human-centered approach, thwarting the development of
sound environmental practices.
criticisms of the landscape painting tradition’s influence on nature
appreciation have not gone uncontested, however. Some have rejected the claim
that the appreciation of formal features mischaracterizes nature’s aesthetic
properties. Others have embraced the humanizing of nature.
Tom Leddy, for example, writes that "projecting craft and art criteria
onto rocks and pools is a good idea, for it usually enhances
appreciation." In a similar vein, Isis Brook identifies
“redemptive elements” of the picturesque that make it useful for fostering love
of neglected nature that is in between wilderness and the human.
than pursuing this ongoing debate in Western philosophical aesthetics, however,
our aim here is to explain the absence of an
analogous debate in recent discussions of Chinese ecoaesthetics. To that end,
we now turn to an examination of the Chinese tradition of landscape painting, a
rich tradition with no less cultural influence than its Western counterpart.
The Chinese landscape painting tradition
representation of landscape is found in very early Chinese painting; it
developed under the influence of the Confucian and Daoist ideas that shaped
wider Chinese culture. Daoism encouraged an interest in the artistic
representation of landscape through its celebration of the philosophical ideal
of a retreat from society into a freer existence in the natural world.
Emphasizing the harmonious relation, in a metaphysical sense, between humans
and nature, Daoism posited a unity of all things in the Dao（道), rather than a radical distinction between
humanity and an inanimate, physical world.
It thus inspired a sense of animism about all of the physical world and
the absence of a clear distinction between that world and human beings. Nature, therefore, figures as a key element
in the works of Daoist-influenced painters.
depiction of landscape took on new importance, however, during the Six
Dynasties Period (fifth century BCE), with the influence of the Buddhist idea
that images can "resonate with the spiritual force of the Buddha."
This gave painting a "new meditative function,” as the image was regarded
as able to "convey the spiritual presence of a person or an object that is
no longer physically present." Landscape paintings no longer served to merely
represent an idea, such as freedom from moral conventions, or the union of
humanity and the natural world. In addition, they allowed the viewer to
experience unity with nature via the artistic representation. This idea
provided further impetus to landscape painting, and this period is generally
viewed as the beginning of landscape painting as a distinct artistic genre in
Chinese art. In subsequent centuries, the genre developed and evolved, reaching
a high point during the Song dynasty era (960-1279 CE).
very general terms, the cultural and philosophical roots of the genre produced
an approach to art and a corresponding appreciative practice that differs in
significant ways from that of Western landscape painting. Some of the key
distinctive elements of Chinese painting are found in the “Six rules of
painting,” compiled by Xie He in the sixth century. The first of these rules
holds that a painting must possess "spirit resonance life movement." This principle rests on the Daoist idea, alluded
to above, that fundamental reality is not physical matter but the living spirit
of the Dao (道)
(referred to as Qi气),
with the physical forms of things merely representing traces of this spirit. For the painter, this meant that
representational realism was relatively unimportant, the main consideration
being whether the painting succeeds in capturing the deeper spiritual resonance
of Qi气 in the object depicted. Paintings that did so
were said to possess a highly prized distinctive vitality, or life-movement, as a result.
important aspect of this rendering of the Qi气 of a landscape is the idea of the artistic
conception of the painter. In the Dao, human and natural spirit cannot be
distinguished and ultimately are one. As one writer put it: "The
continuous presence of Qi气 in
all modalities of being makes everything flow together as the unfolding of a
single process." Thus, in rendering the Qi气 of the landscape, the painter is at the same
time rendering his own Qi气. The
painter does not, therefore, aim to capture the objective essence of the
landscape, an aim of some Western painters. Rather, as Li and Ryan put it,
"Images….correspond pictorially (and externally) to the artists’ inner
domain of emotions, feelings and thoughts about nature." Longxi Zhang, in a discussion of the Chinese
poet Li Bai, describes this artistic attitude as follows:
Clearly the poet does not wish to distinguish his
subjective self and the blue mountain while bestowing feelings on the natural
scene. There are many other Chinese poems that combine emotions with scenes skillfully
to integrate the human and the natural, with no clear distinction of the self
and the natural environment, thus forming a long and rich tradition of seeking
spiritual values and the calm of the mind in the beauty of nature.
this quotation suggests, the importance of the artist’s conception in
appreciation makes it vital that the appreciator bring keen observation and
feeling to his or her engagement with the artwork, so as to apprehend the
vitality of spirit conveyed in the work.
specific stylistic elements of Chinese painting, such as notions of formal
composition and pictorial cohesion, also differ from those of the Western
landscape tradition. Structural principles of painting involving the formal
relations between brush strokes loom large in the Chinese understanding of
notions such as pictorial integrity and cohesion. Here again, many differences are traceable to
the distinctive philosophical elements of Chinese painting. One of the most
prominent is the use of empty space, highly significant in virtue of being
indicative of the Dao, which is traditionally described in negative terms. Empty space was viewed as necessary for a work’s
vitality, insofar as it allowed Qi气 to
flow in the painting. Regarding formal composition, conceptions of the
appropriate way to balance opposing elements also emerged from Daoist ideas. The use of particular sorts of perspective in
Chinese painting has also been tied to these philosophical views.
between Western and Chinese approaches are also evident in the absence in
Chinese painting of certain approaches that loom large in the Western
tradition. There is, for example, a relative lack of emphasis on the
personification of nature, religious allegory, or notions of Romantic
transcendence of nature. These differences are often accounted for in terms of
the Chinese rejection of a meaningful human-nature opposition. Western thought,
influenced by Christian and later materialist ideas, posited a gulf between
humanity and nature. This naturally led to an artistic interest in the divine
or supernatural, as in artistic representations of the sublime. In contrast,
painters in the Chinese tradition showed relatively little interest in such
Ecoaesthetics: uniting ecology and art?
reviewed the general features of the Chinese landscape tradition, we now return
to our main focus, the attitude of recent ecoaesthetics to this tradition. In
his presentation of ecoaesthetics, Cheng writes that "[ecoaesthetics] does
not necessarily oppose a form of aesthetic enjoyment based on artistic
form." Here, the contrast with Western debates is
clear. Western philosophers who have emphasized the importance of ecology in
nature appreciation have been critical of the landscape tradition, with its
formal, picturesque values and its imposition of the human perspective, seeing
it as largely antithetical to the ecological approach to appreciation. Cheng,
however, denies any such tension.
obvious explanation for this difference would be that Chinese art is different
from Western art and therefore does not pose the same problems for an
ecological approach. However, this explanation does not seem satisfactory,
given that these problems arise from very general characteristics of art. For,
as discussed in the previous section, the Chinese landscape tradition, perhaps
even more than the Western, has emphasized the imposition of subjective feeling,
mood, and ideas onto nature. Also, while formal features, such as visual design
qualities, play a lesser role in Chinese than Western painting, the Chinese
tradition has its own principles of pictorial composition, albeit ones
ultimately understood in the context of Chinese ideas and practices. It is by
no means clear that such principles do not lead to a devaluing of certain
environments or problematic habits of behavior toward the environment.
any event, a more promising explanation for ecoaesthetics positing unity of
ecological and artistic appreciation is at hand. This explanation appeals not
to the distinctive character of Chinese art but to a distinctive Chinese
understanding of ecology. If we examine
the writings of ecoaesthetic philosophy, we see that this explanation indeed
matches closely to their views.
Western conceptions, ecological understanding generally refers to a body of
empirical knowledge on the biological and physical interactions constituting
the operation of different ecosystems. In the context of ecoaesthetics,
however, it is understood quite differently. Cheng refers to the Daoist
conception of the unity of nature, for example, as an "ecological
worldview.” He writes: "To some extent, the Chinese mode of thought about Qi气 and the cosmos consisting of Qi气 is very close to the worldview interpreted
through today’s science of ecology and philosophical ecology, which emphasizes
the connectivity and interrelatedness between community members." An appreciation of nature that is based on
Daoist conceptions is, therefore, in his view, an ecological one. Given that
Chinese landscape painting was heavily influenced by Daoist ideas, and this
sense of metaphysical unity, we can see the basis for Cheng’s view that there
is no conflict between ecoaesthetics and the artistic approach.
discussion makes it clear that the ecoaesthetic approach is not only compatible
with the artistic tradition but has been implicit in the tradition all along:
"The perception of a landscape,” he writes, "is not simply the
awareness of scenery but of the complex and dynamic fields of energy
transformation that are present. In terms of Chinese aesthetics, it is the
appreciation of nature’s vitality (Sheng Ji生机) or spirit resonance (Qi Yun气韵). We have arrived at a new model of nature
appreciation.” The new model of nature appreciation described
here is, in fact, the same approach to appreciation that is central in the
Chinese artistic tradition, as we saw earlier.
explanation seems to account for the ecoaesthetic attitude toward the landscape
tradition. However, we should also ask whether this attitude is tenable. Does
embracing the Daoist ecological worldview render worries about the artistic
tradition otiose? Here we may consider the two Western criticisms of the
artistic tradition separately, starting with the charge of mischaracterizing
nature. The Daoist conception of the unity of nature might be seen to reject
the entire idea of a distinction between the subject and an objective nature,
hence the charge that artistic appreciation fails to apprehend nature
objectively would be incoherent. To raise the question whether ecoaesthetics
renders the appreciation of nature as overly human-centric would be to assume a
distinction between humanity and nature, which is precisely what the
ecoaesthetic view denies.
this response is satisfactory, we will address shortly. But first we note that,
even if it is satisfactory, the same response will not address the second
concern about the artistic tradition, namely its effect on human treatment of
the environment. We may grant that the Daoist idea of the unity of nature may
be environmentally positive in the broader sense of promoting a general sense
of unity between humanity and nature. But it cannot simply be asserted that
this enhanced feeling of empathy for nature, produced by ecoaesthetics’
emphasis on human-nature unity, will necessarily outweigh the environmentally
harmful effects of human-centric appreciation. It thus remains an open
empirical question what the overall environmental impact of the ecoaesthetic
approach to appreciation will be.
is a critical issue for ecoaesthetics, given that its proponents describe it as
an inherently ethical view, requiring "treating the natural environment as
a dynamic organic ecosystem and holding a respectful attitude towards the
natural environment." This claim, however, needs support from a closer
analysis of the appreciative practices sanctioned by ecoaesthetics. In a recent
discussion, for example, Li and Ryan defend the ethical merit of ecoaesthetics
by emphasizing the environmental benefits of integrating natural and human
spaces, as in the garden city concept and the rejection of isolated wilderness
as an ideology. But while the notion of wilderness can be abused
and so lead to environmentally negative outcomes, so can the notion of
human-nature unity. This possibility, however, is not addressed in their
to the first criticism, namely mischaracterizing nature, it is not so clear that it can be easily dismissed,
either. Ecoaesthetics, it was suggested, might look to avoid it by
appealing to the Daoist rejection of an objective conception
of nature. But in fact, ecoaesthetics does not reject this conception, at least
not categorically. Cheng, for example, does not see the traditional Daoist
ecological worldview as incompatible with the requirement for ecological
understanding in something more like the Western sense. On the contrary, he
cites just such a requirement as one of the “four cornerstones” of
ecoaesthetics. It is, he writes, "imperative for ecological aesthetic
appreciation to rely on the ecological knowledge." He subsequently clarifies that "ecological
knowledge" in this context refers to "ecology, history, paleontology,
geology, biogeography" and that "it is ecology as a scientific
discipline that reveals what I called ‘ecological aesthetic quality’ in the
if ecoaesthetics holds that an objective understanding of nature, as revealed
in these sciences, is necessary for appropriate appreciation, it becomes
unclear how it can also reject the very conception of a subject/object
distinction when it embraces appreciation in line with the artistic tradition.
At the very least, we are left with important unresolved questions as to how
these distinct conceptions of ecology relate to each other. Ecoaesthetics
proponents have tended to glide over these questions. Cheng, for instance,
writes that "to some extent, the Chinese mode of thought about Qi气 and the cosmos consisting of Qi气 is very close to the worldview interpreted
through today’s science of ecology." But the basis for this claim of closeness is
unclear. Both concepts involve connectedness, but this is a very generic
similarity and the concepts are substantively different in important ways. Qi气 is not a scientific concept, for example, and
claims about it cannot be straightforwardly related to claims in sciences such
as paleontology or geology. The metaphysical claim that all things are related
as manifestations of Qi气 is
apparently an a priori claim that, if
true, is true about all of nature. Any two things at all would be related in
terms of Qi气,
but this is not true of relations in geology, paleontology, and other branches
of what might broadly be called ecological science. In short, it is unclear how the two metaphysical
views of nature embodied in ecoaesthetics fit together, indeed even whether
they can fit together.
might be suggested, perhaps in a pragmatic spirit, that both senses of
ecological understanding should be embraced, if each contributes to better
treatment of the environment. In this view, we might forego sorting out the
metaphysics of ecoaesthetics and allow ethical considerations to drive the
selection of metaphysical assumptions, perhaps even past the point of
consistency. This would fit with ecoaesthetics’ emphasis on ecological ethics,
mentioned earlier. However, as we have seen, debates over the legacy of the
Western landscape tradition suggest that these two different conceptions of
nature may actually pull in quite different directions, in terms of their
influence on our treatment of nature. In our view, therefore, a closer
reassessment of the legacy of the artistic tradition of nature appreciation
remains a pressing theoretical issue for future development of the
Glenn Parsons is Associate Professor in Philosophy at Ryerson
University in Toronto. His research interests include environmental aesthetics,
design, and human beauty.
Zhang is Associate Professor in Aesthetics at Fuzhou University in China. Her
research interests include environmental aesthetics, Chinese traditional
aesthetics, and Chinese painting and calligraphy aesthetics.
Published on July 19, 2018.
 Allen Carlson, "On the Possibility of Quantifying Scenic
Beauty," Landscape Planning, 4 (1977), 131-172; "Appreciation
and the Natural Environment," Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism,
37 (1979), 267-275; Yuriko Saito, "Appreciating Nature on its Own
Terms," Environmental Ethics, 20 (1998a), 135-149; "The
Aesthetics of Unscenic Nature," Journal of Aesthetics and Art
Criticism, 56 (1998b), 101-111; Glenn Parsons, Aesthetics and Nature (London: Continuum Press, 2008).
 Here we focus on the most developed version of ecoaesthetics, at
least in the English literature, that of Xiangzhan Cheng; see his
"Environmental Aesthetics and Ecological Aesthetics: Connections and
Differences," in X. Cheng, A. Berleant, P. Gobster, and W. Xinhao (eds.), Ecological
Aesthetics and Ecological Assessment and Planning (Zhengzhou: Henan
People's Press, 2013a), pp. 85-104, and "On the Four Cornerstones of
Ecological Aesthetic Appreciation," in S. Estok and W. Kim (eds), East
Asian Ecocriticism: A Critical Reader (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013b), pp. 221-236. Other philosophers associated with the view are Li Xinfu, Zeng Fanren,
and Wangheng Chen, who develops ecoaesthetics in his Chinese Environmental
Aesthetics, trans. Feng Su, ed. Gerald Cipriani (New York: Routledge,
2015). For discussion of the views of these philosophers, see Cheng (2013a), and
Allen Carlson, "The Relationship between Eastern Ecoaesthetics and Western
Environmental Aesthetics," Philosophy East and West, 67 (2017),
 For a detailed comparison, see Carlson, "The Relationship
between Eastern Ecoaesthetics and Western Environmental Aesthetics."
 Carlson, "Appreciation and the Natural Environment;" see
also his "Nature, Aesthetic Judgment, and Objectivity," Journal of
Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 40 (1981), 15-27.
 Cheng, "Environmental Aesthetics and Ecological Aesthetics:
Connections and Differences," p. 233.
 Xiangzhan Cheng, "Aesthetic Engagement, Ecosophy C, and
Ecological Appreciation," Contemporary Aesthetics, 11 (2013c); Q.
Li, and J. Ryan, "Nature, Engagement, Empathy: Yijing as a Chinese
Ecological Aesthetics," Environmental Values, 26 (2017), 343-364.
 For a general overview of the Western landscape tradition, see K.
Clark, Landscape into Art (London: Harper and Row, 1976).
 A classic account of the picturesque is Hussey, The Picturesque: Studies
in a Point of View. (London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1927); for a contemporary
discussion, see J. Dixon-Hunt, Gardens and the Picturesque: Studies in the
History of Landscape Architecture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994).
 Carlson, "The Relationship between Eastern Ecoaesthetics and
Western Environmental Aesthetics," p. 120.
 See Carlson ibid., and also: Carlson, "Appreciation and the Natural
Environment," Saito, "Appreciating Nature on its Own Terms,"
"The Aesthetics of Unscenic Nature," and Callicott, "Wetland
Gloom and Wetland Glory."
 Swamps and plains, for example: see Evernden, "Beauty and
Nothingness: Prairie as Failed Resource," Landscape, 27 (1983),
1-8, and J.B. Callicott, "Wetland Gloom and Wetland Glory," Philosophy
and Geography, 6 (2003), 33-45; on modern formalist approaches, in general, see Carlson,
"On the Possibility of Quantifying Scenic Beauty."
 M. Eaton, "Fact and Fiction in the Aesthetic Appreciation of
Nature," Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 56 (1998),
149-156; see also H. Rolston "The Aesthetic Experiences of Forests,"
in A. Carlson and A. Berleant (eds), The Aesthetics of Natural Environments
(Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2004); Callicott, "Leopold's Land
Aesthetic," Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 4 (1983),
329-332; S. Schauman, "The Garden and the Red Barn: The Pervasive Pastoral
and its Environmental Consequences," Journal of Aesthetics and Art
Criticism, 56 (1998), 181-190; A. Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, with
Essays on Conservation from Round River (New York: Ballantine Books, 1970).
 R. Stecker, "The Correct and the Appropriate in the Appreciation
of Nature," British Journal of Aesthetics, 37 (1997), 393-402.
 T. Leddy, "A Defense of Arts-Based Appreciation of Nature,"
Environmental Ethics, 27 (2005), 299-315, 304-5.
 Brook, "Wilderness in the English Garden Tradition," Ethics
and the Environment, 13 (2008), 105-119. For similar views, see also D.
Crawford, "Scenery and the Aesthetics of Nature," in A. Carlson and
A. Berleant (eds), The Aesthetics of Natural Environments (Peterborough,
ON: Broadview, 2004), and R. Paden, "A Defense of the Picturesque," Environmental
Philosophy 10 (2013), 1-21.
 For a classic overview, see G. Rowley, Principles of Chinese
Painting (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959).
 M. Shaw, "Buddhist and Daoist Influences on Chinese Landscape
Painting," Journal of the History of Ideas, 49 (1988), 183-206.
 Rowley, Principles of Chinese Painting, 34.
 C.Y. Cheng, "Chinese Western Conceptions of Beauty and Good and
their Cultural Implications," in K-H. Pohl (ed.), Chinese Thought in a
Global Context: A Dialogue Between Chinese and Western Philosophical Approaches
(Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 190-235. Similar ideas regarding the depiction of
nature, as they occur in the context of Japanese art, are discussed by Y.
Saito, "The Japanese Appreciation of Nature," British Journal of
Aesthetics, 25 (1985), 239-251, and B. Sandrisser, "Cultivating
Commonplaces: Sophisticated Vernacularism in Japan," Journal of
Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 56 (1998), 201-210.
 Quoted in Cheng, "Aesthetic Engagement, Ecosophy C, and
 Li and Ryan, "Nature, Engagement, Empathy: Yijing as a
Chinese Ecological Aesthetics," 352.
 "Nature and Landscape in the Chinese Tradition," in P.
Cheng, K. Fan (eds.), New Perspectives on the Research of Chinese Culture
(Springer, 2013), p. 15.
 C.Y. Cheng, "Chinese Western Conceptions of Beauty and Good and
their Cultural Implications,” p. 197.
 Rowley, Principles of Chinese Painting, pp. 36-37.
 The importance of flowing vital energy" in the work, in addition
to the visible pattern on the painted surface, is emphasized in the Bifa ji,
a classical tenth-century treatise on landscape painting attributed to Jing Hao
(trans. Stephen H. West, in Ways with Words, P. Yu et al eds (Berkeley:
University of California, 2000), pp. 202-244.
C.Y. Cheng, "Chinese Western Conceptions of Beauty and Good and
their Cultural Implications," 194-6; for a different explanation, however,
see C. Tyler, and C. Chen, "Chinese perspective as a rational system:
relationship to Panofsky's symbolic form," Chinese Journal of
Psychology, 53 (2011), 7-27.
 Rowley Principles of Chinese Painting, p. 20.
 X. Cheng, "Aesthetic Engagement, Ecosophy C, and Ecological
 Ibid.; see also Li and Ryan, "Nature, Engagement,
Empathy: Yijing as a Chinese Ecological Aesthetics," 357.
 X. Cheng, "Aesthetic Engagement, Ecosophy C, and Ecological
 For a general discussion of Daoism and issues relating to the
treatment of the environment, see K.L. Lai, "Conceptual Foundations for
Environmental Ethics: A Daoist Perspective," in J. Callicott and J. McRae
(eds), Environmental Philosophy in Asian Traditions of Thought (Albany:
SUNY Press, 2014), pp. 173-196.
 Cheng, "Environmental Aesthetics and Ecological Aesthetics:
Connections and Differences." Indeed, one of the stated motivations for
Cheng's Ecoaesthetics is the "global ecological crisis." For further
development of the practical dimensions of traditional Chinese aesthetics, see
Chen, Chinese Environmental Aesthetics.
 Li and Ryan, "Nature, Engagement, Empathy: Yijing as a
Chinese Ecological Aesthetics," p. 357.
 Cheng, "On the Four Cornerstones of Ecological Aesthetic
Appreciation," p. 228.
 Ibid., pp. 203, 231.
 Cheng, "Aesthetic Engagement, Ecosophy C, and Ecological appreciation."
 Another possible point of contact between the two conceptions of ecology is the notion
of balance. However, the role of balance, and related notions such as stability
and harmony, in recent ecology has been a matter of much debate, casting doubt
on the idea of equating of the two conceptions; see D. Botkin, Discordant
Harmonies; A New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1992).
We thank two anonymous reviewers of Contemporary Aesthetics for their helpful comments and suggestions.