Landscape and phenomenology

Authored by: John Wylie

The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415684606
eBook ISBN: 9780203096925
Adobe ISBN: 9781136220609


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What is the nature of the relationship between landscape and phenomenology? Phenomenology is a branch of continental philosophy which aims to elucidate and express the meaning and nature of things in the world – of phenomena – through a focus upon human lived experience, perception, sensation and understanding. One element of this aim involves developing an account of culture-nature relations that is radically different from an orthodox scientific conception of ‘nature’ as an external realm, distinct from human thought and practice – a conception which underwrites many contemporary Western attitudes to nature, both academic and lay. Phenomenology is also a diverse and still-evolving tradition, but in terms of its influence upon landscape research, the ‘existential’ phenomenology of two mid-twentieth-century thinkers, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, has been especially notable. And landscape is … well, to offer an initial definition would be jumping the gun, especially in a volume such as this one, teeming with competing definitions of the word. Instead of doing so, a definition of landscape from a phenomenological perspective will emerge progressively through the course of the chapter.

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