Landscape Aesthetics

Stephen Davies

in The Artful Species

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199658541
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746253 | DOI:
Landscape Aesthetics

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Evolutionary psychologists have argued that landscapes elicit primeval aesthetic reactions according to their suitedness to the lives of our foraging forebears. This is plausible to some extent, though some of the attitudes that are discussed might depend more on the appeal of tamed, modern environments. The “savanna hypothesis”—that our ancestors evolved on the African savanna and we retain a vestigial preference for savanna-like landscape features—is questionable. The physical environment during Hominin and human evolution was not as stable as has been supposed, and too little is known about the social arrangements of these times to be sure what was or was not adaptive. The chapter rejects two hypotheses—that environmental preferences are culturally arbitrary and that humans have evolved at different times for different habitats—in favor of a third: that the relevant biological adaptation lies in our behavioral flexibility in the face of environmental variety and inconstancy.

Keywords: adaptedness; the aesthetic; biophilia; environment; landscape; savanna

Chapter.  7913 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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