The picturesque is usually interpreted as an admiration of 'picture-like,' and thus inauthentic, nature. In contrast, this paper sets out an interpretation that is more in accord with the contemporary love of wildness. This paper will briefly cover some garden history in order to contextualize the discussion and proceed by reassessing the picturesque through the eighteenth century works of Price and Watelet. It will then identify six themes in their work (variety, intricacy, engagement, time, chance, and transition) and show that, (...) far from forcing a 'picture-like' stereotype on nature, the picturesque guided the way for a new appreciation of wildness—one that resonates with contemporary environmental philosophy. (shrink)
This book provides a systematic, philosophical account of the main issues that pertain to the aesthetics of modified environments, as well as new insights concerning the generation and appreciation of landscapes and environments that fall between nature and culture, including gardens and ecologically restored landscapes.
Comparing the nature encounters of Gerald Durrell with our current climate of 'stranger danger', health and safety neurosis, and the beguilement and blunting of the senses by technological advances presents a worrying picture of a new era of nature and culture deprivation. However, even in the most unlikely places, a rich engagement with nature can be rekindled. Central to such recovery is access to nearby nature that allows practical engagement rather than merely detached on-looking. In my conclusion I outline examples (...) where this has been made possible in the challenging settings of socially deprived urban areas. (shrink)
Comparing the nature encounters of Gerald Durrell with our current climate of?stranger danger?, health and safety neurosis, and the beguilement and blunting of the senses by technological advances presents a worrying picture of a new era of nature and culture deprivation. However, even in the most unlikely places, a rich engagement with nature can be rekindled. Central to such recovery is access to nearby nature that allows practical engagement rather than merely detached on-looking. In my conclusion I outline examples where (...) this has been made possible in the challenging settings of socially deprived urban areas. (shrink)
Reference to Merleau-Ponty's ideas surfaces in environmental thinking from time to time. This paper examines whether, and in what way, his ideas could be helpful to that thinking. In order to arrive at a conclusion I examine in detail and attempt to clarify the notions of 'Flesh' and 'Earth' in order to see if they can carry the meanings that commentators sometimes attribute to them. With a clearer outline of what he was saying in place, I suggest that the new (...) ontology that Merleau-Ponty introduces could help to transform environmental thinking, but that careful argumentation is required to show this. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of ethics in addressing aspects of ecological restoration in culturally-saturated landscapes. Do we have the ethical tools to respond to the complex questions that restoration poses? We can see valued landscapes, such as the English Lake District, as culturally rich or as ecologically denuded. This paper will juxtapose the demands of retaining rich cultural narratives and those of rewilding. Using the ethical theory of responsive cohesion, this paper will explore the cultural narrative vs wildness question (...) in the context of the English Lake District. (shrink)
Literature on place makes use of concepts like authenticity and is often structured around a critique of homogeneity or placelessness. This critique is reinforced by the discourse of conservation biology with its emphasis on protecting biodiversity and condemning some non-native species. However, a common emotional response of humans, when they are displaced, is to make where they are like where they felt at home. The debate around invasive species needs careful handling for both ecological and social reasons. This paper addresses (...) a gap in that debate by taking account of the emotional involvement of humans with plants and their caring for the immediate environment through the activity of gardening. (shrink)
Through a number of examples of environmental interventions, this paper makes the claim that the unauthorised nature of some interventions is an integral part of their aesthetic quality. This does not mean that all such interventions have these qualities - only that the regulation of what can be done where and by whom could endanger the production of a rich seam of aesthetic experience, such as edginess and whimsy, and the aesthetic engagement of artists and the general public with places.
On 18–19 May 2018, a symposium was held in the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of Ronald W. Hepburn (1927–2008). The speakers at this event discussed Hepburn’s oeuvre from several perspectives. For this book, the collection of the revised versions of their talks has been supplemented by the papers of other scholars who were unable to attend the symposium itself. Thus this volume contains contributions from (...) eighteen notable scholars of different disciplines, ranging from contemporary aesthetics and art theory through to philosophical approaches to religion, education and social anthropology. It also includes a bibliography of Hepburn’s writings. The essays were first published in two special issues of the Journal of Scottish Thought, vols. 10–11 (2018–2019). -/- Ronald William Hepburn was born in Aberdeen on 16 March 1927. He went to Aberdeen Grammar School, then he graduated with an M.A. in Philosophy (1951) and obtained his doctorate from the University of Aberdeen (1955). His tutor at Aberdeen was Donald MacKinnon (1913– 1994), a Scottish philosopher and theologian, the author of A Study in Ethical Theory (1957) and The Problem of Metaphysics (1974). Hepburn taught as Lecturer at the Department of Moral Philosophy at Aberdeen (1956–60), and he was also Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy at New York University (1959–60). He returned from the United States as Professor of Philosophy at Nottingham University. In 1964, he was appointed as a Chair in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh and between 1965 and 1968 he was also Stanton Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion at the University of Cambridge. From 1975 until his retirement in 1996, he held the Professorship of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh. He died in Edinburgh on 23 December 2008. His philosophical interests ranged from theology and the philosophy of religion through moral philosophy and the philosophy of education to art theory and aesthetics. Notably, Hepburn is widely regarded as the founder of modern environmental and everyday aesthetics as a result of the influence of papers in the 1960s which pioneered a new approach to the aesthetics of the natural world. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the concept of the picturesque in the sense of admiring nature as “picture-like” and, consequently, inauthentic. A contrasting view regarding the interpretation of the picturesque, which is more acquiescent to the contemporary love of wildness and environmental philosophy, is presented and explored through the works of Price and Watelet. In reassessing the picturesque, six themes are identified in their works, namely, variety, intricacy, engagement, time, chance, and transition. This alternative view of the picturesque shows that, contrary to (...) the belief that it forced a “picture-like” representation of nature, it actually acted as a guide toward a new appreciation of wildness. The current interest in preserving pristine wilderness or rural landscapes represents a current interest in wild nature. (shrink)
: In this paper we discuss ethical and aesthetic questions in relation to the gardening practice of topiary. We begin by considering the ethical concerns arising from the uneasiness some appreciators might feel when experiencing topiary as a manipulation or contortion of natural processes. We then turn to ways in which topiary might cause an 'aesthetic affront' through the humanizing effects of sentimentality and falsification of nature (most often found in representational rather than abstract topiary). Our contention is that successful (...) topiary emerges through a dynamic and positive relationship between topiarist and tree, where the gardener works with nature's forms instead of in strong opposition to them. Appreciation of successful topiary, we shall argue, is marked by an experience of both the tree as a living thing and the artifice which has shaped it. (shrink)