• The Human Touch and the Beauty of Nature

    Arnold Berleant (see profile)
    Philosophy of nature, Aesthetics, Environment (Aesthetics), Ecology, Landscapes
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    negative aesthetics, nature, aesthetic value, aesthetic harm, negative sublime, Environmental aesthetics, Ecological aesthetics, Landscape
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    The human presence is unavoidable, not only in the natural world but on the very occasion of beauty. There is little or nothing on this planet that has not been influenced by human action. Not only have people radically altered the earth's surface, but human practices have affected the atmosphere, the seas, the very climate. Moreover, the awareness of beauty and the aesthetic satisfaction this affords are grounded in perceptual experience, a human occurrence. Our recognition and participation are essential in recognizing beauty's presence and indeed for its very possibility. Nature untouched, then, is a state found exclusively in prehuman history and about which we can only conjecture. It exists now merely as a speculative idea, for a person's awareness is the filter through which both nature's meanings and its beauties are necessarily apprehended. The title of this chapter is therefore not a conflict of opposites but somewhat ironic, since nature, as we know it, and human action, as we have just seen, are not different realms but the same. They are cited as the subject of my discussion and not as an implied contrast.
    Arnold Berleant, “The Human Touch and the Beauty of Nature,” Living in the Landscape: Toward an Aesthetics of Environment (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997), Ch. 4 reprinted in Rethinking Landscape by Ian Thompson (Routledge, 2009).
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    Last Updated:
    5 years ago


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