A Philosophy of Gardens by David Edward Cooper

By David Edward Cooper

Why do gardens topic rather a lot and suggest quite a bit to humans? that's the interesting query to which David Cooper seeks a solution during this publication. Given the keenness for gardens in human civilization historical and sleek, jap and Western, it really is striking that the query has been see you later ignored by means of sleek philosophy. Now eventually there's a philosophy of gardens. David Cooper identifies backyard appreciation as a different human phenomenon certain from either from the appreciation of artwork and the appreciation of nature. He discusses the contribution of gardening and different garden-related goals to "the solid life." And he distinguishes the numerous different types of meanings that gardens could have, from their illustration of nature to their religious importance. A Philosophy of Gardens will open up this topic to scholars and students of aesthetics, ethics, and cultural and environmental experiences, and to a person with a reflective curiosity in issues horticultural.

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A garden, after all, contains living, natural things that may be admired as such. At the same time, artistry has been invested into the making of many gardens, and this too may be admired as such. But these truisms fall well short of constituting what I shall call the ‘factorizing’ thesis, one that purports to provide a coherent and comprehensive understanding of garden appreciation. On that thesis, garden appreciation may be analysed in terms of, or factorized into, two modes of appreciation—those of artworks and nature respectively.

The final reason for resisting the assimilation of garden to art appreciation stems from the many practical and ‘utilitarian’ uses to which gardens have always been put. : 28); while the modern garden, to recall Thomas Church’s words, is increasingly ‘designed primarily for living as an adjunct to the functions of the house’—for eating, swimming, playing in, and much else. Some philosophers conclude that these practical, utilitarian dimensions of the garden are enough to disqualify it as an object of aesthetic appreciation in what they see as the ‘traditional’ sense of ‘disinterested’ or ‘contemplative’ appreciation.

By exaggeration, I have in mind such statements as that, when someone walks along the path of a Chinese garden, ‘scenes will unfold . . much as if a handscroll were being unrolled’ (Wang 1998: 39; my italics), or—to switch to another art—that Stourhead, with its ‘emblems’ of Aeneas’s wanderings, is ‘almost literally a poem’ (quoted in Ross 1998: 66; my italics). I do not find that what it is like to enjoy a garden I am walking through is much like what it is like to look at a handscroll, let alone to read a poem.

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