Synopses & Reviews
Environmental aesthetics is an emerging discipline that explores the meaning and influence of environmental perception and experience on human life. Arguing for the idea that environment is not merely a setting for people but fully integrated and continuous with us, Arnold Berleant explores the aesthetic dimensions of the human-environment continuum in both theoretical terms and concrete situations. Insisting on the need to reconceptualize environment and recognize its aesthetic implications, he pursues a variety of topics and approaches to environmental aesthetics. Aesthetic experience, maintains Berleant, is always contextual. There is no inside and outside, person and environment, human being and external world. Recognizing that humans, along with all other things, inhabit a single intraconnected realm, he speaks of environment as "a seamless unity of organism, perception, and place" that is suffused with values. The foremost characteristic of environmental perception, then, is the quality of engagement. Berleant moves from natural to non-natural environments, suggesting that the aesthetic aspect of any human habitat is an essential part of its desirability. After explaining the concept of environment and the possibilities of describing our aesthetic responses to various sorts of environments, Berleant applies his phenomenologically descriptive aesthetics to a broad range of issues and situations. From outer space to the museum, from architecture to landscape, from city to countryside to wilderness, this book discovers in the aesthetic perception of environment the reciprocity that constitutes both person and place.
"Not since Thoreau has an American author displayed such a profound appreciation for the aesthetics of nature; but, unlike Thoreau, Berleant has designed a program for allowing others to join in on that appreciation."
—E. F. Kaelin, Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University
"Berleant's new environmental aesthetics is a challenge not only to the philosophers but also to the practitioners of environment-making. With rich illustrations and freedom from technical jargon, Berleant applies his new aesthetics to analyzing and solving the practical problems concerning various environmental designs of today."
—Canadian Philosophical Review
About the Author
Arnold Berleant is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Long Island University, and the author of The Aesthetic Field and Art and Engagement (Temple) and Art and Engagement (Temple).