"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
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. Recognizing that humans, along with all other things, inhabit a single intraconnected realm, he names the quality of engagement as the foremost characteristic of environmental perception. Berleant moves from natural to nonnatural environments, suggesting that the aesthetic aspect of any human habitat is an essential part of its desirability. From outer space to the museum, from architecture to landscape, from city to wilderness, this book discovers in the aesthetic perception of environment the reciprocity that constitutes both person and place.
"Arnold Berleant's Aesthetics of Environment poses an important path for philosophy to walk down--instead of environmental ethics, where what is right and wrong in nature is discussed, he goes after the difficult destination of deciding how to articulate what is beautiful in the nature we want, not the nature we see."
--Human Ecology Review
"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
"A pioneering contribution to this discipline. It raises a large number of challenging questions and suggests new dirrections in the analysis of the environment as an aesthetic category."
--Michael H. Mutias, Professor of Philosophy, Millsaps College
Art And Engagement
Arnold Berleant Temple University Press, 1993 Library of Congress BH39.B3945 1991 | Dewey Decimal 111.85
In this book Arnold Berleant develops a bold alternative to the eighteenth-century aesthetic of disinterestedness. Centering on the notion of participatory engagement in the appreciation of art, he explores its appearance in art and in aesthetic perception, especially during the past century. Aesthetic engagement becomes a key, both on historical and theoretical grounds, to making intelligible our experiences with both contemporary and classical arts. In place of the traditional aesthetic that enjoins the appreciator to adopt a contemplative attitude, distancing the art object in order to ensure its removal from practical uses, Art and Engagement examines the ways in which art entices us into intimate participation in its workings.
Beginning with the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the idea of engagement, Berleant focuses on how engagement works as a force in different arts. Successive chapters pursue its influence in landscape painting, architecture and environmental design, literature, music, dance, and film.
Art and Engagement argues forcefully for the originality and power of aesthetic perception. Demolishing the conceptual barriers erected by the Western world’s limiting tradition, the book discloses the condition of engagement that has always been present when our aesthetic encounters have been most effective and suggests a new direction for aesthetic inquiry.