Irrawaddy Literary Festival (Myanmar)
The Role of Myanmar Poems in Environmental Conservation
I would first like to express my thanks to the organizers of the Irrawaddy Literature Festival for this opportunity to discuss my “view on the significant role of Myanmar traditional Literature and culture in environmental conservation and sustainable development”. The topic I have chosen is on how Myanmar traditional poems can contribute towards environmental conservation and sustainable development from the aesthetic perspective.
Like all organism, human beings rely on the natural environment for survival and well-being. But, unlike other living beings human needs not only physical nutrients, but mental supplement such as aesthetic feeling plays a vital role for his survival. Appreciation of beauty is one of the distinctive element that distinguishes humans from other creatures, that is, we like to live in beautiful places full of blooming flowers, green trees, singing birds as mental nutrients while we need fresh air and clean water with full of minerals as our physical nutrients.
The natural environment provide our aesthetic needs through its amazing beauty such as ranges of purple mountain, snowy peak, green forests and prairies, the far-reaching spaces of blue oceans and colourful seashells, flowing yellowish rivers, the twittering sounds of birds and beasts with their mates, colourful flowers in bloom, and so forth. In my view the beauty of nature has always stimulated awareness that we have to preserve our environment to preserve this beauty.
Today this beauty is rapidly vanishing; mega cities have replaced many beautiful landscapes and this has left human beings empty-hearted. It may be one of the causes in the rise of crime and violence in the inner cities of megapolices.
The phenomena of natural world have historically been the subject and object of aesthetics. When we use the term ‘natural’ it has been conceptualized as the beautiful, pastoral, sublime, and picturesque. These aesthetic categories have historically functioned to frame and construct the natural world for us against a human, technologically determined environment. Environmental Aesthetics leads into questions and forms an analysis of our aesthetic relationship
Dr. Lé Lé Wynn, Professor & Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Yangon
Irrawaddy Literary Festival (Myanmar)
and judgments of the natural world as a methodology for setting up a better relationship that will promote environmental respect; not just preservation.1 In his A Sand County Almanac, the founder of ecological science Aldo Leopold stated that “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community” and “It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” 2 It means that integrity, stability, and beauty are necessary for preserving the natural environment. Of these, integrity and beauty are especially human concerns because nonhuman beings that live in the biotic community are not concerned with ethical or aesthetical value. Besides, it seems to suggest that both ethical and aesthetical considerations are crucial for the environmental conservation.
Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of Judgment, stated that beautiful items in nature such as flowers, birds, and seashells provide a source of disinterested pleasure because their significant form alone can lead us to pleasurable imagination and understanding. “Beauty is a symbol of Morality,” and “The enjoyment of nature is the mark of a good soul” are key sayings of Kant. For him, the shared enjoyment of a sunset or a beach shows there is harmony between us all, and the world. In this respect, judgments of pure beauty, being selfless, initiate one into the moral point of view. 3
For that reason, it is clear that the role of aesthetic appreciation of Nature is crucial for awakening the human’s conscience with regard to ethical responsibility to the natural...
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