While Theodor Adorno is known for his philosophical reconstruction of aesthetic modernism, he also analyzes—and is critical of—the demotion of natural beauty in the hierarchy of aesthetic concerns following Kant. Recent scholars have acknowledged that natural beauty is important in Adornian aesthetics, but many do so in a manner that repeats the subordination of natural beauty and the aesthetic experience of nature to that of art. Against this tendency, in this article I demonstrate that not only does Adorno contest the inferiority of the aesthetic experience of nature but his unconventional description and theoretical articulation of natural beauty is especially pertinent for our time of climate crisis. By unpacking his endorsement of Walter Benjamin’s casting both nature and history in terms of transience, I argue that Adorno proposes an experience of natural beauty that is expressive of social historical content, offers a vision of a different relationship with nature, and discloses ethical claims on us to act in this world.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 159-178
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.