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Aesthetics and Environment

Arnold Berleant
Aesthetics and Environment, Theme and Variations on Art and Culture
(Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).

ISBN-10: 0754650774 | ISBN-13: 978-0754650775

These essays comprise a set of variations on art and culture guided by the theme of the environment. The essays deal with the physical reality of the environment such as the city, the shore, the water and the garden but also with the virtual environment and the social one.  Environmental aesthetics is a theme whose variations are as endless as the possibilities of the human performers and conditions from which it is fashioned. 

This enticing set of essays testifies to Berleant’s special talent in moving easily between both natural and human environments and opens out the contemporary discussion beyond that of the wilderness to the cultural and social environment.  Berleant argues that  neither the natural nor the human environment stands alone and both are best understood as distinctions that are coextensive in experience, that one can only speak of environment in relation to human experience.  The theme of this book is that such experience suffuses the so-called natural world and shapes the human world.  he maintains the idea that in as much as people are embedded in these worlds, relationships, including human relationships, are part of them.  The melding of these two worlds leads Berleant to defend ultimately what he has termed ‘social aesthetics.’

Table of contents


I.  Environmental Aesthetics

  1            A Phenomenological Aesthetics of                         Environment

  2            Aesthetic Dimensions of Environmental                         Design

  3            Down the Garden Path

  4            The Wilderness City:  A Study of                         Metaphorical Experience

  5            The Aesthetics of the Coastal Environment

  6            The World from the Water

  7            Is There Life in Virtual Space?

  8            Is Greasy Lake a Place?

  9            Embodied Music   

II.  Social Aesthetics

  10            The Idea of a Cultural Aesthetic

  11            The Social Evaluation of Art

  12            Subsidization of Art as Social Policy

  13            Morality and the Artist: Toward an Ethics of                        Art

  14            Getting Along Beautifully: Ideas for a Social                   Aesthetics


This book is no longer in print. It can be accessed here as a webpage and here as a PDF.