The natural beauty

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In addition to the art- beautiful and the sublime, the natural beauty is an essential subject area of aesthetics and has played an important role in the philosophy of the beautiful since the 18th century. Its opposite is that which is inherently ugly . The separate theming of natural beauty is based on the fact that not only things created by human hands, but also natural phenomena can be perceived as appealing and beautiful, thus as a natural spectacle.

The history of the term

Prominent representatives of the field from Immanuel Kant ( Critique of Judgment ) to Theodor W. Adorno ( Aesthetic Theory ) and Joachim Ritter ( Landscape . On the Function of the Aesthetic in Modern Society ) have given natural beauty a special value. Since the Christian Middle Ages - in individual cases up to the 19th century - the focus was initially on the beauty of nature as something “beautiful” created by God and thus as a reflection of divine order. This group of ideas also includes the anthropocentric idea that the natural order is "beautiful" for people, created for their pleasure. Gradually this paradigm is being replaced by that of the self-organization of nature: How can orders arise spontaneously without human or divine influence that we perceive as "beautiful"?

Beauty or grandeur?

In contrast to this, the motif of the “sublime” develops. First of all, the sublimity belongs to the attributes of God in his size and superiority, but it has been used as a stylistic-aesthetic category since pseudo-Longinos (“Peri hypsous”). In the aesthetics of the 18th century, the sublime is often seen as the epitome of those aspects of nature that endanger or overwhelm people in their threat or their size, which exceeds human perception, while they are aesthetically `` made up '' - for example in pictorial representations or from a more secure, relieving form Perceived distance - arouse positive emotions (such as for Kant ). In contrast to the compatible, harmonious substance of the beautiful, the moment of the incommensurable is accentuated in the sublime .

In the arts

In literature and the fine arts, including music, the praise of natural beauty is often a topic - the opening verse of Goethe'sMailied ” is just one example : How wonderfully shines | Me nature! | How shines the sun! | How laughs the hallway!


  • Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, lectures on aesthetics
  • Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory


  • Günter Figal : Theodor W. Adorno. The natural beauty as a speculative figure of thought. To interpret the “aesthetic theory” in the context of philosophical aesthetics . Bouvier, Bonn 1977, ISBN 3-416-01351-4 .
  • Carl Berthold: The natural beauty . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1875.
  • Joachim Ritter: Landscape. On the function of the aesthetic in modern society . In: Landscape Perception and Landscape Experience: Texts on the constitution and reception of nature as landscape. Edited by Ulfert Herlyn and Gert Gröning. Minerva, Munich 1990. pp. 23-41, ISBN 3-597-10536-X .