Arnold Berleant’s philosophical theories have proven to be prescient in their identification of an aesthetic interface between human beings and the natural world – the interface he calls “engagement,” a form of participatory aesthetics. This essay presents the context out of which Berleant’s theory of engagement has evolved and then touches upon the application of engagement first to cases of aesthetic appreciation and then to a very recent case in coastal ecology and management. It is suggested that Berleant’s elaboration of a “participatory aesthetics” both mirrors and informs the scientific model of “participatory research,” which in turn has implications for how philosophers might understand the relative roles of objectivity and engagement in aesthetic practice.

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Aesthetics Commons



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