A Philosophy of Gardens by David Edward Cooper

By David Edward Cooper

Why do gardens topic rather a lot and suggest rather a lot to humans? that's the interesting query to which David Cooper seeks a solution during this booklet. Given the passion for gardens in human civilization historic and glossy, japanese and Western, it really is outstanding that the query has been see you later overlooked through smooth philosophy. Now ultimately there's a philosophy of gardens. David Cooper identifies backyard appreciation as a distinct human phenomenon precise from either from the appreciation of paintings and the appreciation of nature. He discusses the contribution of gardening and different garden-related goals to "the reliable life." And he distinguishes the numerous varieties of meanings that gardens can have, from their illustration of nature to their non secular importance. A Philosophy of Gardens will open up this topic to scholars and students of aesthetics, ethics, and cultural and environmental experiences, and to someone with a reflective curiosity in issues horticultural.

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No finical separation between flower and kitchen-garden there; no monotony of enjoyment for one sense to the exclusion of another; but a charming paradisiacal mingling of all that was pleasant to the eye and good for food . . you gathered a moss-rose one moment and a bunch of currants the next; you were in a delicious fluctuation between the scent of jasmine and the juice of gooseberries. (Quoted in Wheeler 1998: 321) Eighty years later, the gardener and author William Bowyer Honey wrote: It is a familiar experience to find one’s greatest aesthetic enjoyment .

These affinities between the experiences of gardens and of natural places imply, it is claimed, that the appropriate approach to garden appreciation is not a ‘traditional’ aesthetics of disinterested contemplation, but an ‘aesthetics of engagement’ of the kind that Berleant has proposed for articulating our appreciation of nature (see Miller 1998: 277). Gardens, like natural places, are not so much ‘objects’ of the aesthetic gaze, in the manner in which artworks have ‘traditionally’ been treated, as ‘occasions’—to use Berleant’s term—for active, engaged experience.

If one stresses the past participles, the idea is liable to emerge of gardens appreciated as art—as transforming, 36 Art or Nature? improving, methodizing activity and craft. Stress the noun, however, and the thought becomes that, for all such intervening craft, it is essentially nature that we are confronted with in a garden. This, perhaps, was Horace Walpole’s point when referring to gardens as nature ‘polished’: for by polishing—by removing brambles from an oak-tree, say—we ‘restore’ to nature its ‘honours’ (in Hunt and Willis 1988: 316).

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