Nature, engagement, empathy: YIJING as a Chinese ecological aesthetics

Qi Li, John Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-364
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironmental Values
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


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