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environmental aesthetics is not to write yet another essay on the nature of the field, but rather simply to describe some of the approaches and materials I have used when teaching the subject. I teach enviromental aesthetics in two ways: either as one of a number of topics in two different junior undergraduate courses or as the sole topic in senior undergraduate and graduate courses. The two junior courses are an introduction to aesthetics and an environmental philosophy course. The upper level courses focus exclusively on environmental aesthetics, but have different themes each time a course is taught. I first discuss my treatment of the subject in each of the two kinds of junior courses, and then give an example of the upper level courses. 1.Environmental aesthetics as a topic in an introductory aesthetics course The introductory aesthetics course in which I teach environmental aesthetics is a one semester course taken primarily by second and third year undergraduates majoring in philosophy, English, music, or one of the fine arts. The course is the second in a sequence of two introductory aesthetics courses, the first of which focuses exclusively on the philosophy of art. The second course addresses mainly topics in the philosophy of art criticism. We consider environmental aesthetics at the end of the course. The philosophy of art criticism course focuses on standard topics relating to our responses to and talk about works of art. We cover topics such as the role of the artworld, artists, and artistic traditions, the importance of emotion and reason, the relevance of knowledge to aesthetic experience, and subjectivity vs. objectivity, all in relation to art and art criticism. In this context, I introduce environmental aesthetics as an area that considers aesthetic appreciation of things other than works of art. The class then investigates the extent to which the conclusions they have reached concerning works of art apply to our experience of non-art. Since many of the student’s positions involve the analysis of our experience and criticism of art by reference to factors, such as the artworld, artists, and artistic traditions, that are not obviously available for non-art, they find themselves with a problem. Either their positions have to be reconsidered and reworked so as to apply to non-art or else abandoned, either totally or only concerning non-art. The latter alternative creates a worrisome rift between aesthetic appreciation of art and that of other things. Once the issues have been set up in this manner, they can be fruitfully pursued by reference to some of the standard contemporary positions in environmental aesthetics, such as Arnold Berleant’s engagement view and what is typically called the cognitive approach. Briefly put, Berleant’s view is that aesthetic appreciation requires a total engagement of the appreciator with the object of appreciation and that such engagement is the essence of aesthetic appreciation of both art and nonart. By contrast, the cognitive approach stresses the role of knowledge in aesthetic appreciation, finding appreciation of art and non-art similar in structure, but dissimilar concerning the kinds and sources of knowledge that are required for appropriate appreciation of each. For Berleant’s position I assign “The Aesthetics of Art and Nature,” versions of which are in his The Aesthetics of Environment (Temple, 1992) and in S. Kemal and I. Gaskel (eds) Landscape, Natural Beauty and the
Since the main text for the course is A. second edition (McGraw Hill.” reprinted from Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 37. I introduce environmental aesthetics as a means of developing a more sophisticated account of aesthetic appreciation. However. ecofeminism. I do this along three different lines: first. The Neill and Ridley text also has Noël Carroll’s “On Being Moved By Nature: Between Religion and Natural History. Botzler and S. also provide the opportunity for an investigation of the nature of aesthetic experience. 1993). third. Routledge. the three positions. Armstrong (eds) Environmental Ethics: Divergence and Convergence. Ideally. 1998). Given its emphasis on pleasing. 2001). since both essays . given that nature is not art. what is wanted is a theory that makes aesthetic appreciation of natural environments equally as serious as that of art and as non-anthropocentric and as objective as is possible. Ridley (eds) Arguing About Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debates. by elaborating some of the richer features of aesthetics experience. environmental studies. and. the cognitive view is represented by my “Appreciation and the Natural Environment. or one of the sciences or social sciences.” reprinted from Kemal and Gaskel (op. Both to introduce a more sophisticated account of aesthetic appreciation in general and to develop a serious approach to aesthetic appreciation of nature that goes beyond simple anthropocentric and subjective scenery appreciation. such as ecocentrism. as two complementary approaches to the value of natural environments. I utilize the readings in the “Aesthetics” section of the text for the course: R.). by spelling out the nature of serious aesthetic appreciation of art. we consider various theories of the moral value of natural things and environments. by downplaying scenery appreciation in aesthetic appreciation of nature.Arts (Cambridge. Environmental aesthetics as a topic in an environmental philosophy course The environmental philosophy course in which I teach environmental aesthetics is a one semester course taken mainly by third year undergraduates majoring in philosophy. and ecocentrism. There are seven readings in this section that I use as follows: First. it strikes them as both excessively anthropocentric and overly subjective. such as traditional anthropocentric ethics. second. thereby giving it a degree of environmental significance somewhat comparable to that of more radical theories of environmental ethics. 1974) called “Seeing” nicely illustrate some of the richer features of aesthetic experience. animals rights theory. picture-like scenery. 2. which stresses the importance of emotional arousal in aesthetic appreciation and thus constitutes an excellent follow-up to both the engagement and the cognitive approach. cit. (1979). Taken together. The course covers some of the history of environmental philosophy but focuses primarily on environmental ethics. in addition to constituting a basic introduction to the issues of environmental aesthetics. Within this context and especially in light of the more radical of such theories. Since the course focuses on environmental ethics. Against this background. Neill and A. a somewhat different treatment of its aesthetic appreciation is required. 1995. a selection from Thoreau’s Natural History Essays entitled “Walking” and an except from Anne Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper. We discuss environmental aesthetics in conjunction with environmental ethics. second edition. students frequently find traditional aesthetic appreciation of nature rather unsatisfactory. (McGraw Hill.
approach to aesthetic appreciation of natural environments. it is easy to set up the basic problem that I use to introduce the contemporary discussion. affirmative action on environmental issues. and introduce a cognitive. Consequently. I then fill out the science-based approach by reference to Baird Callicott’s “The Land Aesthetic. I follow up Muir’s critique of scenery appreciation. few have very much knowledge of the history of aesthetics. Burks’ Place of the Wild (Island. its appreciation is not aesthetic at all. This is the question of how. pristine nature allows of . and. first. I elaborate these richer features of aesthetic experience by reference to John Muir’s “A Near View of the High Sierra” in which he contrasts his engaged and informed appreciation of nature with the scenery fixation of his artist acquaintances. in light of the decline of this tradition and the dominance of philosophy of art in the twentieth century. there is no set way in which I develop the remainder of any given course. 3. This position is related to the cognitive approach to the aesthetic appreciation of nature and holds that. focusing on the empiricist turn in aesthetics and the notions of the beautiful. I here describe only one example.D. given our current understanding of art appreciation. This significance is underscored by the last two essays in the section. These two essays are rather polemic and present our appreciation of nature as a powerful foundation for positive. I introduce the courses with a short series of lectures on eighteenth century landscape aesthetics. and the picturesque. second. the topic was what is typically called positive aesthetics.describe a range of profound aesthetic encounters with nature. such as nature. such as Berleant’s engagement view and the cognitive approach (both briefly described above).” which elaborates Aldo Leopold’s cognitive treatment of nature appreciation. In light of this introduction.A. with my “Aesthetic Appreciation of the Natural Environment.” which was written for Botzler’s and Armstrong’s text. 1994). Although most students in such courses have some previous acquaintance with aesthetics. are we to understand aesthetic appreciation of non-art? As in the introductory course outlined above in section 1. although I follow a more or less standard introduction to such courses. as well as the more radical view that. I then move to the special topic of the course in question. In the particular course for which I give the literature in the following two paragraphs. eighteenth century landscape aesthetics backgrounds current environmental aesthetics. This proves to be a useful introduction since. thereby claiming for environmental aesthetics a high degree of environmental significance. The courses have environmental aesthetics as the general subject and each time a course is given we focus on a different theme within that area. since some non-art. when appropriately appreciated. Environmental aesthetics as the sole topic of a senior undergraduate or graduate course The senior undergraduate and graduate courses in which I teach environmental aesthetics are taken either by fourth year philosophy majors and honors or by M. and then make some suggestions for alternatives. and Ph. is not intentionally created by an artist. Thus. science-based.” both reprinted from D. we next survey some of the contemporary positions that address this kind of problem. students. This last piece brings home the comparison with environmental ethics and especially with Leopold’s ecocentric land ethic. the sublime. Thus. and thus arguably more non-anthropocentric and objective. Gary Nabhan’s “The Far Outside” and Stephanie Mills’ “The Wild and the Tame.
Montefiore (eds) British Analytical Philosophy (Routledge and Kegan Paul. 4. “The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature. Malcolm Budd on the aesthetic appreciation of nature and his critique of positive aesthetics: Malcolm Budd. “Appreciating Nature on its Own Terms. (Prentice Hall.). “An Ontological Argument for Environmental Ethics. 2001). Foundations of Environmental Ethics. Stan Godlovitch’s “Nature as Mystery” position and his ambivalence about positive aesthetics: Stan Godlovitch.” A.” D. 1989) and Jenna Thompson. and “Valuing Nature and the Autonomy of Natural Aesthetics. The sets were: 1. 1980) to exemplify the view that nature appreciation is not aesthetic appreciation and. To represent the cognitive position. Carlson (eds) Environmental Aesthetics.). I introduced that topic using my “Nature and Positive Aesthetics. For literature for the introductory part of such courses.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 100 (2000). “Evaluating Nature Aesthetically. if not only. In an upper level course such as that described above. “Contemporary Aesthetics and the Neglect of Natural Beauty. 1997) and/or Marcia Eaton’s “Fact and Fiction in the Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature. cit. and especially of nature. and “The Aesthetics of Unscenic Nature.” Environmental Ethics 20 (1998). I assign my “Aesthetic Appreciation of the Natural Environment. using Ronald Hepburn’s seminal article.” British Journal of Aesthetics 36 (1996) and “The Aesthetics of Nature. Williams and A. It briefly describes eighteenth century landscape aesthetics as well as introducing some contemporary views. Berleant and A. “Icebreakers: Environmentalism and Natural Aesthetics. 1966).” S. Lopes (eds) Routledge Companion to Aesthetics (Routledge. which either developed the positive aesthetics position or called it into question. one might alternatively use the .” Journal of Aesthetic Education 18 (1984). positive aesthetic judgments. M. In the particular course that considered positive aesthetics as its special topic.”British Journal of Aesthetics 38 (1998). Mannison. cit. Feagin and P. and R. as in the introductory course described in section 1. since I have found that students get mired down in them resulting in the introduction becoming the major focus of the whole course. “Is There a Correct Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature?. Two recent attempts to use positive aesthetics in relation to environmental ethics: Gene Hargrove.mainly. McRobbie.” Inquiry 25 (1982) or Don Mannison’s “A Prolegomenon to a Human Chauvinistic Aesthetic.” Journal of Applied Philosophy 11 (1994). 3: Yuriko Saito’s concerns about scientific cognitivism in the appreciation of nature and the problem of unscenic nature: Yuriko Saito.” Chapter 6. “Aesthetics and the Value of Nature.” in Berleant and Carlson (op. I next canvas recent positions by using either Robert Elliot’s “Faking Nature. 2.” in Berleant and Carlson (op. by using Berleant’s “The Aesthetics of Art and Nature” (op. Maynard (eds) Aesthetics (Oxford. This also provided the opportunity for consideration of the overall positions of the authors. special issue of Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 56 (1998).” B.) to illustrate the engagement view.” Environmental Ethics 17 (1995).” Environmental Ethics 6 (1984) and for the remainder of the course assigned sets of articles. I do not employ any primary sources relevant to the initial historical background lectures. Rather I assign my overview essay on environmental aesthetics from B. I then set the problem of appreciation of non-art. Gaut and D. after the initial part of the course that introduces environmental aesthetics. cit. Routley (eds) Environmental Philosophy (Australian National University.
each of which bring together a number of important contributions to the field. First. Aesthetics and Nature (London: Continuum Press. Addendum Since I understand that prospective instructors of courses in environmental aesthetics are still using my “Teaching Environmental Aesthetics” as a guide for structuring their courses. A. 2008). Allen Carlson and Sheila Lintott (eds). I. 2004). Here are some to consider: A. Nassauer (ed. First. D. there are three new anthologies. and philosophical traditions). there have been a number of new teaching resources that have appeared in the field of environmental aesthetics. there are two short introductory textbooks that have appeared only recently: Glenn Parsons. there is a short overview essay on environmental aesthetics that is now available from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Berleant and A. while the latter treats the aesthetic appreciation of both natural and human environments. Nature and Landscape: An Introduction to Environmental Aesthetics (New York: Columbia University Press. some new introductions to the field have been published. . 2002) (Thirteen articles by some main philosophical contributors to the field). (Twenty two short pieces presented at the Thirteenth International Congress of Aesthetics in 1995 by individuals representing different countries. A. The former is an excellent introduction to the aesthetics of natural environments. Washington. I think an addendum updating the information provided in that piece is useful. 2001) (Twelve articles emphasizing environmental aesthetics as the aesthetics of everyday life). 2008).C.: (Island. M. Design: The Foundations and Practice of Environmental Aesthetics (University of Helsinki. and Environmentalism: From Beauty to Duty (New York: Columbia University Press. Aesthetics. 1997).) Environment and the Arts: Perspectives on Environmental Aesthetics (Ashgate. The anthologies are the following: Allen Carlson and Arnold Berleant (eds). when the note was published.) Placing Nature: Culture and Landscape Ecology. The Aesthetics of Human Environments (Peterborough: Broadview Press. Allen Carlson. 1997) (Ten original articles by individuals representing a wide range of disciplines and focusing mainly on landscape ecology). Light and J. In addition. approaches. However. Berleant (ed. special issue of Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 56 (1998) (A theme issue with ten original articles covering the aesthetics of both natural and human environments). with the publication of these anthologies. J.) Real World . given the fact that since 2003. Smith (eds) The Aesthetics of Everyday Life (Seven Bridges. Carlson (eds) Environmental Aesthetics. Arnold Berleant and Allen Carlson (eds). The Aesthetics of Natural Environments (Peterborough: Broadview Press. these resources are available in a more convenient form.remainder of the course simply to discuss the essays in one or another of the collections recently published in the area. 2008). Nature. Y Sepanmaa (ed. Second. 2007). some of which I mention above as valuable teaching resources. This is especially so.
For a longer course focusing on the aesthetics of natural environments and especially on its historical roots and/or on its connections to environmental ethics: the Carlson and Lintott collection together with Parsons’ introductory volume. there are now a number of single-authored volumes in the field. Malcolm Budd.For a general course in the field. Emily Brady. 2005). 2. 2002). most of them published since 2003 that would be excellent books around which to build a course. Yuriko Saito. Ronald Moore. Art and Architecture (London: Routledge. Natural Beauty: A Theory of Aesthetics Beyond the Arts (Peterborough: Broadview Press. one might use the following combinations of textbooks: 1. Moreover.For a shorter course focusing primarily on the aesthetics of human environments: Berleant’s and Carlson’s Aesthetics of Human Environments together with Carlson’s introductory volume. Any one of them could be used effectively together with either of the two new introductions to the field that are mentioned above. Allen Carlson. These single-authored volumes include the following: Arnold Berleant.For a shorter course focusing primarily on the aesthetics of natural environments: Carlson’s and Berleant’s Aesthetics of Natural Environments together with Parsons’ introductory volume. 1. 3. Aesthetics and Environment: Variations on a Theme (Aldershot: Ashgate. Aesthetics of the Natural Environment (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Aesthetics and the Environment: The Appreciation of Nature. 2000). 2007). Everyday Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2003). The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature: Essays on the Aesthetics of Nature (Oxford: Oxford University Press. especially an upper-level undergraduate course or a graduate seminar. 2007).For a longer course focusing on the aesthetics of both natural and human environments: the two collections edited by Carlson and Berleant together with Carlson’s introductory volume. PRINT 2003 © Allen Carlson .
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