The work of Marcel Duchamp occupies a unique and enigmatic place in the history of modern
Western art. Starting with his striking cubist painting Nude Descending a Staircase, Duchamp
quickly turned modern art upside down with the succession of Readymades that followed.
These culminated in Étant Donné, presumably an environmental sculpture but m…[Read more]
Dogma persists in aesthetic discourse in the assumptions that art consists primarily of objects, that these objects possess a special status, and that they must be regarded in a unique way. I claim that they are assumptive and misleading, while Carson opposes this by supporting the dogmas. I argue that Carlson begs the question (the relevance of…[Read more]
Traditional attempts to ground ethics may be seen to be governed by the intent to preserve established values even when they seem to be most rational and critical. This essay probes the connections of some of the most prominent justifications of ethical theories to the prevailing morality of the dominant social order. This claim is examined in…[Read more]
The sensuousness of perception leads us to recognize the role of the senses in aesthetic experience. Aesthetics has traditionally admitted the sensuous through sight and hearing but has excluded the contact senses of taste, smell, and especially touch. These contact senses challenge the place in traditional aesthetics of distance and…[Read more]
This is a comment on Marcia Eaton’s article interpreting Joseph Brodsky’s claim that “aesthetics is the mother of ethics.” Eaton challenges this claiming that they are conceptually interdependent, neither coming first. While Eton wishes to retain the metaphor, I argue in favor of Brodsky’s position, giving ethics priority.
Difficulties in dealing with values follow from the failure to distinguish clearly between values as characteristic kinds of human experiences and value judgments as statements about such kinds of experiences. Values originate in the basic conditions under which human beings conduct their lives at different times and places. Value judgments are…[Read more]
The assessment of normative issues must begin by examining basic human needs. Judgments do not create values but only recognize them. Such factual knowledge enables us to determine policy and guide actions, and the human sciences can contribute by identifying such structural universals. This can underlie efforts to establish moral beliefs and…[Read more]
An anthology of essays written by Arnold Berleant on urban aesthetics. Includes citation, abstract, and DOI for each title.
It is important to complement the empirical studies that supply specific data for environmental design by articulating the aesthetic ideas that underlie empirical research and practical decision making. These empirical studies share with philosophical aesthetics a foundation in sense experience. How this experience is to be understood and used…[Read more]
The perception of the physical environment resembles the experience of landscape painting, although differences appear in its sensory modalities, in the force and directness of what is present to us, in the overtness and movement of engagement. The objects of the ordinary world often impose themselves forcibly on our thoughts and actions, and our…[Read more]
The perimeter of architecture has expanded beyond separate buildings to embrace urban groupings, such as the cultural center and the pedestrian mall. And it has enlarged its scope still farther, redeveloping urban zones into “cities” that incorporate apartments, offices, shops, schools, and parks. Moreover, the range of architecture has moved in…[Read more]
“Urban Aesthetics, Ethics and Urban Environment”
An English translation of an interview of Arnold Berleant by Almantas Samalavičius (published in Polish). They discuss the connection between environment and aesthetics, the human environment, urbanism, and architecture.
The interest in environmental aesthetic that politicians and con¬servationists have recently been showing seems clear in its intent. It appears to be a belated yet important effort to save the values of our natural world from final exploitation and the irrevocable disfigurement and 1088 that must follow. If it is to result in more than a program…[Read more]
The idea of ecology embraces more than the biological world; it extends to the cultural world as well, including the built environment. At the same time our understanding of environment has changed to include the human participants and not just their external surroundings. Furthermore, humans engage their environment perceptually and this…[Read more]
What I have tried to do here is to clarify and redefine the idea of environment in a way that recognizes its contextual character and includes humans, and so cannot be objectified. Similarly, environmental forms must not be understood as objects of experience but as constituents in an experiential, aesthetic field. We may even consider the urban…[Read more]
This inquiry into the aesthetic of the city has two objectives. One is to explore the dimension of urban life suggested by the metaphor, “wilderness,” hoping to discover what distinctive vision of urban life the “wilderness city” can provide. The other is to use this investigation to uncover something about the meaning and function of…[Read more]
One of the perennial problems in aesthetics is the justification of normative judgments. How can we support the claim that a painting in a new and unfamiliar style is beautiful rather than bizarre, an action noble rather than base, or a public building that does not honor the classical convention of monumentality or the modern one of individuality…[Read more]
The city does not exist. The city is a fiction, an abstraction rooted in history and mythology. For how can we identify it? However it is identified or defined, the city is an environment of experience before it is anything else. Urban experience, in fact, is perhaps one of the most important and powerful of the complex dimensions that…[Read more]
The agricultural metaphor of my title is deliberate. It suggests the need for cultivating the urban environment, including the aesthetic dimension that is part of every place, so that it offers the conditions under which people will develop and flourish. Humane environments require time to grow and should emerge out of local needs, conditions,…[Read more]
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