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3. The Aesthetics of Environment

DescriptionTaking a philosopher's approach to the 'aesthetic of landscape', the author provides a discourse on the environment as an aesthetic category, relating this to the aesthetic of art. Berleant argues that a study of the aesthetic experience of the natural environment must be contextual and suggests an 'environmental aesthetics of engagement'.
MethodologyReview of literature, theory and ideas.
ResultsAdvocates the need to improve understanding of environmental aesthetics as means of balancing environmental needs and values. He places environmental aesthetics in the context of morals and social values.
PublishedThe Aesthetics of Environment
AuthorsBerleant, A
PublisherPhiladelphia: Temple University Press,
Price35.95 (hardback); 17.95 (softback).
Keywordslandscape assessment, environment /aesthetics; nature /aesthetics
CommentsChapter Two sets out Berleant's view that environmental perception 'engages the entire, functionally active human sensorium' (p17). He considers that it is necessary to overcome established tradition to introduce the other senses into aesthetic perception, and to recognise synesthesia. He develops his theme to suggest that sensory experience is central in aesthetic perception but does not alone constitute environmental experience. Sensation and meaning cannot be separated: 'aesthetic perceptions are never purely physical sensations, never discrete and timeless..... always contextual' (p21). He introduces the concept of 'cultural aesthetics' and speaks of 'the quality of engagement' in environmental aesthetics. In a more recent book, Berleant (1997) relates his theory of environmental aesthetics to the 'active appreciation' of the landscapes which surround us at home, at work and at play.
Other ReferencesBerleant, A. (1997). Living in the Landscape: Towards and Aesthetic of Environment, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.