Living in the Landscape

Toward an Aesthetics of Environment

Arnold Berleant

In Living in the Landscape Arnold Berleant explores new ways of thinking about how we live—and might live—in the landscapes that enfold us. Through the concepts of "aesthetic engagement" and "environmental continuity," he proposes a new paradigm that offers a holistic approach to the meaning of place and places of meaning in our lives.

Although environmental aesthetics is linked in the popular mind to dramatic vistas and monumental landscapes—the Grand Canyon, for example—Berleant is much more concerned with the commonplace settings of everyday life. He argues that our active appreciation of (or "aesthetic engagement" with) the prosaic landscapes of home, work, local travel, and recreation plays a vital role in our discovery of hidden continuities, as well as pleasure and meaning, in the places we inhabit.

“A significant contribution in a field that is only now coming into prominence.”

—Allen Carlson, editor of Environmental Aesthetics

“Environmental ethics, which emerged as a field of philosophical inquiry in the early 1970s, has developed explosively. After a mere quarter-century, there is now more literature in the field than a single scholar can hope to master. Environmental aesthetics, by comparison, is pitifully underworked—even though many more of our decisions to conserve nature have been motivated by environmental aesthetics than by environmental ethics, more by beauty than by duty. This book by Arnold Berleant is therefore especially welcome and important. It will help to advance an inquiry that has been badly neglected but is sorely needed.”

—J. Baird Callicott, author of Earth’s Insights and In Defense of the Land Ethic

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Berleant begins with a general introduction to environmental aesthetics, identifying the kinds of experience, meanings, and values it involves, and describing its historical sources and the issues with which it is concerned. In the rest of the book, he spotlights new directions in the field—as they relate to education, community, creativity, and the sacred—and provides an insightful analysis of "negative environmental aesthetics." Throughout, he is both thoughtful and entertaining, as evidenced in his extended critique of the pop post-modern environment of Disney World.

Berleant addresses issues commonly associated with the environmental movement—e.g., preservation, pollution control, and quality of life. But his study draws from a wide range of disciplines and for that reason should also appeal to scholars and students interested in art and aesthetics, landscape architecture and planning, urban and environmental design, and cultural geography, as well as environmental studies.

About the Author

Arnold Berleant, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Long Island University, is the author of The Aesthetics of Environment and Art and Engagement and is president of the International Association of Aesthetics and the International Institute of Applied Aesthetics.