Thinking through Landscape: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Thinking through Landscape

1st Edition

By Augustin Berque


96 pages

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Paperback: 9780415821162
pub: 2014-08-08
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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.


"This book offers a critical survey of landscape thought and theory for students and professionals in the fields of landscape studies, environmental philosophy, cultural geography and environmental history. The author expresses his aspiration for a landscape where life is good while calling for living a life in agreement with nature." - Dr. Sen Wang, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa

Table of Contents

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

About the Author

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

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy