1st Edition

Thinking through Landscape

By Augustin Berque Copyright 2015
    96 Pages
    by Routledge

    96 Pages
    by Routledge

    Our attitude to nature has changed over time. This book explores the historical, literary and philosophical origins of the changes in our attitude to nature that allowed environmental catastrophes to happen.The book presents a philosophical reflection on human societies’ attitude to the environment, informed by the history of the concept of landscape and the role played by the concept of nature in the human imagination. It features a wealth of examples from around the world to help understand the contemporary environmental crisis in the context of both the built and natural environment.
    Berque locates the start of this change in human labour and urban elites being cut off from nature. Nature became an imaginary construct masking our real interaction with the natural world. He argues that this gave rise to a theoretical and literary appreciation of landscape at the expense of an effective practical engagement with nature. This mindset is a general feature of the world's civilizations, manifested in similar ways in different cultures across Europe, China, North Africa and Australia. Yet this approach did not have disastrous consequences until the advent of western industrialization.
    As a phenomenological hermeneutics of human societies’ environmental relation to nature, the book draws on Heideggerian ontology and Veblen’s sociology. It provides a powerful distinction between two attitudes to landscape: the tacit knowledge of earlier peoples engaged in creating the landscape through their work - “landscaping thought”- and the explicit theoretical and aesthetic attitudes of modern city dwellers who love nature while belonging to a civilization that destroys the landscape - “landscape thinking”.
    This book gives a critical survey of landscape thought and theory for students, researchers and anyone interested in human societies’ relation to nature in the fields of landscape studies, environmental philosophy, cultural geography and environmental history.


    Part 1: The Waves of History  1. Landscape and Thought  2. The Landscape without Landscape Architects  3. The Waves of History  Part 2: The Earth, Acting on its Own  4. The Almond Tree, Barley and the Olive Tree  5. Earthly Leisure  6. The Countryside and the Obscure Female  Part 3: The Third Day of the Third Month  7. The Cave with the Goat-foot  8. The Descent of the Tichka  9. The Witnesses to the Birth of the Landscape  Part 4: They do not know how to look  10. Lunch on the Asqqif  11. The Quest for Authenticity  12. Xie Lingyun’s Principle  Part 5: While having substance, it tends towards the Spirit  13.  The Principle of Zong Bing  14. Down with Harmony!  15. Modern De-Cosmisation  Part 6: Obscure Thing before it is said  16. From the Earth  17. The Profound Meaning of the Landscape  18. There is our Authenticity  Part 7: Codicil 19. For Those Who Would Want to Overcome Modernity  Conclusion: Landscape and Reality


    Augustin Berque is Professor at the EHESS, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, University of Paris, France