Volume 1, 2018
Aesthetics and Philosophies of Art
A Hybrid Approach to the Aesthetics of the Natural Environment
I offer a Kantian model for an aesthetic of ecology with ethical implications. I begin with the example of a landscape rehabilitation project, the Bordelais Bog (St. Lazare, Quebec) an 8000-year-old landscape of rare species, in which an architectural framework has been constructed to preserve nature. I examine the work against the use of the natural landscape for residential development, what Emily Brady has termed, the hedonistic model of aesthetic appreciation. In residential development aesthetic appreciation becomes purely instrumental and indistinguishable from pleasures connected to practical use. I expand on Brady’s Kantian model to elaborate the aesthetic of the Bordelais Bog. The architectural structure designed to protect the bog acts as a programmatic whole, protecting the organic wholeness of the site and therein lays its fittingness to purpose. This is analogous to the concept of ‘functional fit’ as articulated by Allen Carlson, involving the way in which the natural environment is composed of, many-layered and interlocking ecosystems. In his theory a particular fit is essential for the survival of organisms and whole systems. It is necessary to formulate the appropriate fit in terms of the functionality of the human ecosystem in balance with natural ecosystems.