Nature and Landscape

Nature and Landscape: An Introduction to Environmental Aesthetics

ALLEN CARLSON
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/carl14040
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  • Book Info
    Nature and Landscape
    Book Description:

    The roots of environmental aesthetics reach back to the ideas of eighteenth-century thinkers who found nature an ideal source of aesthetic experience. Today, having blossomed into a significant subfield of aesthetics, environmental aesthetics studies and encourages the appreciation of not just natural environments but also human-made and human-modified landscapes.

    Nature and Landscape is an important introduction to this rapidly growing area of aesthetic understanding and appreciation. Allen Carlson begins by tracing the development of the field's historical background, and then surveys contemporary positions on the aesthetics of nature, such as scientific cognitivism, which holds that certain kinds of scientific knowledge are necessary for a full appreciation of natural environments. Carlson next turns to environments that have been created or changed by humans and the dilemmas that are posed by the appreciation of such landscapes. He examines how to aesthetically appreciate a variety of urban and rural landscapes and concludes with a discussion of whether there is, in general, a correct way to aesthetically experience the environment.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51855-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
    Allen Carlson
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. 1 THE DEVELOPMENT AND NATURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL AESTHETICS
    (pp. 1-21)

    In this chapter, I present an overview of environmental aesthetics.¹ It includes a sketch of the historical background to the field and an account of the more recent circumstances that have contributed to its development. I also summarize different contemporary positions on both the natural and the human environment as well as discuss the relationship between environmental aesthetics and environmentalism. Finally, I present the current nature and scope of the field. The overview is designed to introduce the subject matter of environmental aesthetics and to clarify the essential issues that will be addressed in the chapters that follow. This chapter...

  7. 2 AESTHETIC APPRECIATION AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
    (pp. 22-37)

    Having outlined several approaches to understanding the aesthetic appreciation of nature, I now examine five of them more closely, developing and defending one of them, in part by comparison with and in contrast to the other four, two of which are traditional and two contemporary. All five approaches are similar in that they address what might be called the central problem of the aesthetics of nature.

    One version of the central problem of the aesthetics of nature is posed by aesthetician, philosopher, and poet George Santayana. In his classic work The Sense of Beauty, he observes:

    The natural landscape is...

  8. 3 THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN ADEQUATE AESTHETICS OF NATURE
    (pp. 38-51)

    Having compared the Natural Environmental Model, or scientific cognitivism, with both the traditional Object Model and Landscape Model and the modern Human Chauvinist Aesthetic and Aesthetics of Engagement, I now present a methodological framework with which to further assess the three contemporary positions as well as a number of other current ideas concerning the aesthetic appreciation of nature.

    The methodological framework is based on a number of requirements for an adequate aesthetics of nature. By “requirements,” I mean a set of intuitions, constraints, desiderata, and the like that must be met by any satisfactory account of the aesthetic appreciation of...

  9. 4 AESTHETIC APPRECIATION AND THE HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
    (pp. 52-74)

    Environmental aesthetics is centrally concerned with the aesthetics of nature and the natural environment. For many of us, however, the environments in which we spend most of our time are not natural, but those environments in which we work, play, and otherwise carry on our day-to-day lives. These environments are what I call human environments. Thus in addition to the issues addressed in the previous chapters, a major question of environmental aesthetics is how to aesthetically appreciate our human environments. What is the right approach to aesthetically appreciating the immediate world in which we live?

    Addressing the question of how...

  10. 5 APPRECIATION OF THE HUMAN ENVIRONMENT UNDER DIFFERENT CONCEPTIONS
    (pp. 75-88)

    Having argued that the human environment is better appreciated in terms of an ecological approach than in those of the designer landscape approach, I now expand the discussion. For purposes of clarity, I previously rather artificially presupposed that there is one standard and uniform manner in which we conceptualize “the human environment.” This assumption is not fully warranted. Philosopher and aesthetician Francis Sparshott, in one of the truly groundbreaking essays in environment aesthetics, distinguishes several ways of thinking about our relationships to our environments. Such different conceptualizations, he argues, deeply influence the ways in which we aesthetically experience both environments...

  11. 6 AESTHETIC APPRECIATION AND THE AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPE
    (pp. 89-105)

    In this chapter, I investigate the aesthetic interest and merit of a particular human environment, one that, when we are neither in the city nor in pristine nature, typically surrounds us. Thus the consideration of its aesthetic appreciation is a matter that deserves much greater attention than it is typically given. This human environment is what is known as the agricultural landscape.¹ I argue, in line with the general position developed in chapter 4, that the landscapes of agriculture have great aesthetic value, much of which depends on their function and on how well or how poorly they fulfill it....

  12. 7 WHAT IS THE CORRECT WAY TO AESTHETICALLY APPRECIATE LANDSCAPES?
    (pp. 106-128)

    In his book Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art Criticism, aesthetician Jerome Stolnitz presents a particular formulation of the issue that I have been addressing, both implicitly and explicitly, throughout this book. He calls it the question of aesthetic relevance. He asks: “Is it ever ‘relevant’ to aesthetic experience to have thoughts or images or bits of knowledge which are not present within the object itself? If these are even relevant, under what conditions are they so?”¹ In this final chapter, I use Stolnitz’s question as a means to focus and bring together several ideas and themes discussed in earlier...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 129-160)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 161-178)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 179-188)