Environmental Philosophy

Volume 4, Issue 1/2, Spring/Fall 2007

Special Double Issue: Environmental Aesthetics and Ecological Restoration

Galen A. Johnson
Pages 59-75

Forest and Philosophy
Toward an Aesthetics of Wood

This paper initiates a phenomenological study of the aesthetics of forest and wood in three main phases. First, we consider the modalities of wood’s sensuousness and argue against the formalist tradition that restricts aesthetic appreciation to visual forms. Second, we examine the structural, eidetic features of hand-made wooden objects in the “second life” of trees. Third, we engage in reflections on the communities gathered by the first and second lives of trees. These themes outline an aesthetics of the beautiful, the given, and the gathering. We take philosophical inspiration from Merleau-Ponty throughout, and in the end, also Thoreau.