A Philosophy of Gardens

Paperback | March 17, 2008

byDavid E. Cooper

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Why do gardens matter so much and mean so much to people? That is the intriguing question to which David Cooper seeks an answer in this book. Given the enthusiasm for gardens in human civilization ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, it is surprising that the question has been so longneglected by modern philosophy. Now at last there is a philosophy of gardens. Not only is this a fascinating subject in its own right, it also provides a reminder that the subject-matter of aesthetics is broader than the fine arts; that ethics is not just about moral issues but about 'the goodlife'; and that environmental philosophy should not focus only on 'wilderness' to the exclusion of the humanly shaped environment. David Cooper identifies garden appreciation as a special human phenomenon distinct from both from the appreciation of art and the appreciation of nature. He explores the importance of various 'garden-practices' and shows how not only gardening itself, but activities to which the garden especiallylends itself, including social and meditative activities, contribute to the good life. And he distinguishes the many kinds of meanings that gardens may have, from representation of nature to emotional expression, from historical significance to symbolization of a spiritual relationship to the world.Building on the familiar observation that, among human beings' creations, the garden is peculiarly dependent on the co-operation of nature, Cooper argues that the garden matters as an epiphany of an intimate co-dependence between human creative activity in the world and the 'mystery' that allowsthere to be a world for them at all. A Philosophy of Gardens will open up this subject to students and scholars of aesthetics, ethics, and cultural and environmental studies, and to anyone with a reflective interest in things horticultural.

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Why do gardens matter so much and mean so much to people? That is the intriguing question to which David Cooper seeks an answer in this book. Given the enthusiasm for gardens in human civilization ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, it is surprising that the question has been so longneglected by modern philosophy. Now at last ther...

David E. Cooper is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Durham.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.39 inPublished:March 17, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019923888X

ISBN - 13:9780199238880

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Table of Contents

1. Taking Gardens Seriously2. Art or Nature?3. Art-and-Nature4. Gardens, People, and Practices5. Gardens and the Good Life6. The Meaning of Gardens7. The Garden as Epiphany8. Conclusion: The Garden's Distinction

Editorial Reviews

`eminently readable by non-philosophers and as well as philosophers...contains many interesting citations from a host of historical, philosophical and religious authorities.'Philosophers' Magazine