Aesthetic sensibility rests on perceptual experience and characterizes not only our experience of the arts but our experience of the world. _Sensibility and Sense_ offers a philosophically comprehensive account of humans' social and cultural embeddedness encountered, recognized, and fulfilled as an aesthetic mode of experience. Extending the range of aesthetic experience from the stone of the earth's surface to the celestial sphere, the book focuses on the aesthetic as a dimension of social experience. The guiding idea of pervasive interconnectedness, both (...) social and environmental, leads to an aesthetic critique of the urban environment, the environment of daily life, and of terrorism, and has profound implications for grounding social and political values. The aesthetic emerges as a powerful critical tool for appraising urban culture and political practice. (shrink)
From the earliest times art has been integral to human culture. Both fascinated and perplexed by the arts, people have tried, since the age of classical Greece, to understand how they work and what they mean. Philosophers wondered at first about the nature of art: what it is and how it relates to the cosmos. They puzzled over how art objects are created, and extolled human skills that seem at times godlike in their powers. But perhaps the central question for (...) such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle concerned our involvement with art: the response we have to beautiful things, the moral and salubrious powers of art, and perhaps most of all, the power of art to transform and transcend, leading us into a condition of enhanced perception that may be wondrous, dangerous, and at times overwhelming. The classical age displayed a richness of discussion that centered on art as an activity: an activity that is at once cosmic, social, and individual; an activity that brings understanding of a sort; an activity that may be salutary and even exalting, as in Aristotle's celebrated discussion of tragedy and its cathartic effects. Since the eighteenth century, however, this has changed. Questions about art have shifted to the idea of experience, paralleling the great change in the focus of philosophy from matters of ontology to those of epistemology. In place of starting from an examination of the nature of the universe and moving to the human position in the order of things, we have come to realize, since Descartes and Kant, that all inquiry has its inception in a human locus. Now, at the end of the twentieth century, we have finally recognized that the human factor in every kind of awareness and knowledge is structurally unavoidable. Art has become both a symptom of this change and a standard for grasping it. (shrink)
The Aesthetics of Natural Environments is a collection of essays investigating philosophical and aesthetics issues that arise in our appreciation of natural environments. The introduction gives an historical and conceptual overview of the rapidly developing field of study known as environmental aesthetics. The essays consist of classic pieces as well as new contributions by some of the most prominent individuals now working in the field and range from theoretical to applied approaches. The topics covered include the nature and value of (...) natural beauty, the relationship between art appreciation and nature appreciation, the role of knowledge in the aesthetic appreciation of nature, the importance of environmental participation to the appreciation of environments, and the connections between the aesthetic appreciation of nature and our ethical obligations concerning its maintenance and preservation. This volume is for scholars and students focussed on nature, landscapes, and environments, individuals in areas such as aesthetics, environmental ethics, geography, environmental studies, landscape architecture, landscape ecology, and the planning and design disciplines. It is also for any reader interested in and concerned about the aesthetic quality of the world in which we live. (shrink)
I: Environmental aesthetics -- A phenomenological aesthetics of environment -- Aesthetic dimensions of environmental design -- Down the garden path -- The wilderness city : a study of metaphorical experience -- Aesthetics of the coastal environment -- The world from the water -- Is there life in virtual space? -- Is greasy lake a place? -- Embodied music -- II: Social aesthetics -- The idea of a cultural aesthetic -- The social evaluation of art -- Subsidization of art as social (...) policy -- Morality and the artist : toward an ethics of art -- Getting along beautifully : ideas for a social aesthetics. (shrink)
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 is fully integrated and continuous with us, The Aesthetics of Environment explores the aesthetic dimensions of the human-environmental continuum in both theoretical terms and concrete 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. (shrink)
Allen Carlson finds three central problems in my book, Aesthetics and Environment : that it lacks a criterion of the aesthetic itself, that my proposal, aesthetic engagement, is excessively subjective, and that we cannot therefore distinguish between ‘easy’ and ‘serious’ beauty. I respond by uncovering the metaphysical assumptions on which his critique rests and offer more plausible alternatives. I argue, further, that their implications are not only acceptable but fully satisfactory.
The Aesthetics of Human Environments is a companion volume to Carlson's and Berleant's The Aesthetics of Natural Environments. Whereas the earlier collection focused on the aesthetic appreciation of nature, The Aesthetics of Human Environments investigates philosophical and aesthetics issues that arise from our engagement with human environments ranging from rural landscapes to urban cityscapes. Our experience of public spaces such as shopping centers, theme parks, and gardens as well as the impact of our personal living spaces on the routine activities (...) of our everyday life are discussed in terms of their aesthetic value and the nature of our aesthetic appreciation. This volume will appeal to any reader concerned about the aesthetic quality of the world in which we live. (shrink)
The essays, collected by Berleant in this volume all express the impulse to reject the received wisdom modern aesthetics: that art demands a mode of experience sharply different from others and unique to the aesthetic situation, and that the identity of the aesthetic lies in keeping it distinct from other kinds of human experience, such as the moral, the practical, and the social. Berleant shows, on the contrary, that the value, the insight, the force of art and the aesthetic are (...) all enhanced and enlarged by recognizing their social and human role, and that this recognition contributes both to the significance of art and to its humanizing influence on what we like to call civilization. (shrink)
Stone represents the firmness and intransigence of the world within which we live and act. But beyond the perception and appropriations of stone, diverse meanings lie hidden between the hardness of stone and its uses. At the same time meaning must be grounded in the stabilizing presence of a common world. Yet if all that can be said is not about stone simpliciter but only an aesthetics of its perception, uses, and meanings, have we not gained the whole world but (...) lost its reality? The underlying issue is therefore not aesthetic but ontological. (shrink)
Aesthetics is fundamentally a theory of sensible experience. Its scope has expanded greatly from an initial centering on the arts and scenic nature to the full range of appreciative experience. Expanding the range of aesthetics raises challenging questions about the experience of appreciation. Traditional accounts are inadequate in their attempt to identify and illuminate the perceptual experiences that these new applications evoke. Considering the range of environmental and everyday occasions aesthetically changes aesthetics into a descriptive and not necessarily celebratory study (...) of sensible experience, for it must now accommodate a complete range of negative as well as positive values. Th is paper develops an analysis of the multiple dimensions of environmental sensibility. (shrink)
This paper proposes a radical re-examination of the foundations of modern aesthetics. It urges that we replace the tradition of eighteenth century aesthetics, with its insistence on disinterestedness and the separateness of the aesthetic, and its problematic oppositions, such as the separation of sense from cognition. In their place it appeals to a more process-oriented, pluralistic account, one that takes note of varying cultural traditions in aesthetics, that recognizes the aesthetic as a complex of many forces and factors, and that (...) considers the aesthetic as part of a complexity of values, including moral, practical, social, and political ones. It urges, further, an aesthetic-based criticism, not only of the arts, but of culture and knowledge. Central to this account is the idea of aesthetic engagement, which not only recognizes and extends the many connections of and in aesthetic experience, but invites our total involvement as active participants. (shrink)
The business practices of multinational corporations raise many provocative moral issues and offer a touchstone for some fundamental ethical concepts. This essay identifies a wide range of problems but centers on the matter of consistency in corporate policy between foreign and domestic practices and the kind of generality of standards that is required to achieve consistency. Two considerations are singled out for illustrative discussion: wage scales and bribes. Proposals are offered for achieving consistency and generality in each case, the principle (...) of contextual generality for the first and the notion of structural universals for the second. (shrink)
Ecology has become a popular conceptual model in numerous fields of inquiry and it seems especially appropriate for environmental philosophy. Apart from its literal employment in biology, ecology has served as a useful metaphor that captures the interdependence of factors in a field of research. At the same time as ecology is suggestive, it cannot be followed literally or blindly. This paper considers the appropriateness of the uses to which ecology has been put in some recent discussions of architectural and (...) environmental aesthetics, and develops a critique of the differing ecological aesthetics of Jusuck Koh and Xiangzhan Cheng. (shrink)
Attempts to justify the objectivity and universality of aesthetic judgment have traditionally rested on unsupported assumptions or mere assertion. This paper offers a fresh consideration of the problem of judgments of taste. It suggests that the problem of securing universal agreement is false and therefore insoluble since it imposes an inappropriate logical criterion on the extent of agreement, which is irrevocably empirical. The variability of judgments of taste actually forms a subject ripe for inquiry by sociologists, psychologists, historians and anthropologists, (...) as well as by aestheticians. Scenic beauty provides a vivid test for the variability of these judgments. (shrink)
The range of the aesthetic has expanded to cover not only a wider range of objects and situations of daily life but also to encompass the negative. This includes terrorism, whose aesthetic impact is central to its use as a political tactic. The complex of positive and negative aesthetic values in terrorism are explored, introducing the concept of the sublime as a negative category to illuminate the analysis and the distinctive aesthetic of terrorism.
By the close of the eighteenth century, many features of Western intellectual history had become incorporated into a coherent body of aesthetic doctrine that soon acquired the standing of tradition. "The three dogmas of aesthetics" is Allen Carlson's fitting designation of the main principles by which I have characterized this theory: that "art consists primarily of objects," that "these objects possess a special status," and that "they must be regarded in a unique way." Held against the practice and experience of (...) the arts, each of these, I claim, is assumptive and misleading.'. (shrink)
In this time of increasing international involvement, one cannot but be struck by the fact of sharply different traditions concerning art and its practice.3 Recognizing that the arts are a salient part of every culture may lead us to wonder about their features and may make us curious about how and why the arts of other cultures differ from what we find more familiar. Perhaps we hope that the arts will offer us some insight into different cultures and their distinctive (...) worlds. This, then, is in part an essay in comparative aesthetics. Numerous examples of diverse artistic practices evoke our curiosity. Many of those I shall cite here are environmental and this is deliberate, for environments are a pervasive and powerful material embodiment of cultural practice and sensibility. They provide salient and inescapable evidence of this influence, and they bridge the distance sometimes assumed to lie, quite wrongly, in my opinion, between material culture and its artistic manifestations. (shrink)
It might seem strange to propose an aesthetic consideration of the theme park, that artificial bloom in the garden of popular culture.1 The aesthetic is often considered a minority interest in the modern world, yet it offers a distinctive perspective, even on an activity that has mass appeal, and can provide insights that would otherwise remain undiscovered. Aesthetic description and interpretation can illuminate the theme park in many directions: as architecture, design, theater, landscape architecture, environment. I shall choose the last (...) of these, environment. (shrink)
The idea of aesthetic disinterestedness has been a central concept in aesthetics since the late eighteenth century. This exchange offers a contemporary reconsideration of disinterestedness from different sides of the question.
In recognizing the wide range of sensuous perception and at the same time the originary capacity of aesthetic experience, Mikel Dufrenne has shown us the rich capabilities of phenomenology. It is in that spirit that this essay explores musical performance. Music is a multiple art. Its many traditions, forms, genres, and styles, its large variety of instruments and sounds, and its diverse uses and occasions make it difficult to speak of music as a single art form. There are, nonetheless, certain (...) common characteristics that all musics share in the ordering of successive sounds and silences in movement, pattern, and studied length. And, of course, these sounds and silences must be devised and generated, usually by a person but increasingly by other means, especially electronic. Finally, music has its contexts, the particular occasions when it is produced and heard. Perhaps there is indeed a generic musical art, a common ground where all these disparities come together. (shrink)
This is an essay on the tasks and capacities of aesthetic theory and the pitfalls that beset it. I want to show that aesthetics can be enlightening by revealing and studying the facets and dimensions of experiences we call aesthetic, experience that is expansive and revelatory. This kind of experience can also clarify the relation of aesthetics to other areas of knowledge, such as cultural studies, and conversely, the bearing of other disciplines on our aesthetic understanding. Aesthetic theory, however, is (...) easily caught up in secondary, unproductive, and false issues, and these are what gives this essay its title. What is important, I want to argue, is not what we label beautiful or call art but where we find the kind of value experiences traditionally associated with appreciating beauty, natural and artistic, and how we can enhance and develop such experiences. However, this also requires recognizing the converse of such values in the loss, the negation, the desecration of this mode of experience. I conclude by proposing a larger philosophical role for aesthetics. (shrink)
The broad scope and coherence of Natural Beauty are among its major strengths. Moore's syncretic theory tries to integrate diverse and sometimes conflicting theoretical strands. Of special importance is his recognition that the natural world is a social institution embodying perceptions that are conditioned, experiences communicated through language, and social beliefs and conventions. These lead him to consider the natural world as actually artifactual, and he terms it the 'natureworld'. Among the consequences of this is the reciprocity of natural and (...) artistic beauty, one indication of the inclusiveness that runs through his theory. My central concern is whether Moore's syncretic theory can successfully combine disparate features of conflicting theories, such as cognitivism and non-cognitivism, and subjectivism and objectivism. Another concern is whether his syncretism can resolve problems such as the apparent inconsistencies raised by his discussion of framing. Here, alternatives that Moore had presumably settled reappear, as when objects, which had presumably been replaced by experiences, re-emerge in his discussion of framing. These comments identify such difficulties and ask whether the way out may be to reframe not natural beauty but the terms of the question. (shrink)
This essay traces the steps to social aesthetics. It begins by affirming the central place of sense experience for aesthetics and its refinement in the perceptual acuity of a developed sensibility. This leads to associating aesthetic appreciation with such perceptual experience. Rejecting the identification of disinterestedness with such appreciation, the present paper proposes the full participatory involvement in the experience of appreciation as expressed by the concept of aesthetic engagement. This describes the appreciative situation as an aesthetic field in which (...) the perceptual, creative, focusing, and activating factors are in reciprocal interaction. It characterizes not only appreciation in the arts but occurs as well in appreciating natural, built, and social environments. Aesthetic engagement in social aesthetics is exemplified by the gaze in the experience of four well-known paintings I shall consider. Following these a series of related ideas are developed that lead to the concept of a social aesthetics. Finally, the essay returns to the paintings for an enhanced understanding of social aesthetics. (shrink)
Music has not been as prominent in philosophy or as influential in aesthetics as the visual arts, at least in the Western tradition. Reflecting on my years of experience as both a philosopher and a musician, I am increasingly intrigued by speculating if and how today’s aesthetic discourse might have taken a different direction if music been its central focus. It is tempting to wonder whether, in some cases, the musical art may indeed have had an influence, even if less (...) conspicuous than some other arts. (shrink)