Landscape perceptions and experiences

The aims of this blog is
1) to gather material which helps us to view 'Landscape' from many different perspectives (Science, Phenomenology, Aesthetics, Ethics etc)
2) and secondly to record 'Landscape experiences' from our workshops (Reports) and my own experiences (Diary).
For our workshops see our website


Most of these articles are related to animals, but the approach and the way of thinking will also give a good foundation to approach plants, ecological systems and even landscape.  

 Excerpt of

The tension between common sense and scientific perception of animals: recent developments in research on animal integrity 

by Henk Verhoog, which you can find at Tension etc 

Rutgers & Heeger (1999) give the following definition of animal integrity: “The wholeness and completeness of the animal and the species-specific balance of the creature, as well as the animal’s capacity to maintain itself independently in an environment suitable to the species”. Several criteria mentioned in this definition can be related to the following levels of the ‘nature’ of an animal: 

1 The wholeness and completeness of the animal refers to the level of the individual animal. Integrity presupposes the existence of an ‘organism’, a living whole with interconnected parts. It is the interconnectedness, the balanced harmony of the parts of the whole, which is somehow linked to the concept of integrity. Taking away the horns of cows, even if it is done painlessly, is not morally irrelevant in a biocentric theory, because it violates the characteristic nature of cows. It somehow disturbs the organismic ‘wholeness’. The moral relevance of ‘individuality’ (autonomy) is highest (reaches its highest stage) in human beings.

2  The species-specific balance refers to the species-specific nature of the animal, the natural characteristics at the level of the species. When we say, as we do in organic agriculture, that animals should be able to perform their natural behaviours, we refer to this level. A species always fits into an environment that can be more or less specific, dependent on the species. The ability to adapt to a particular environment is part of the species-specific nature of an animal.

3 The animal’s capacity to maintain itself independently can be related to the third level of naturalness: for instance, what does it mean to be an animal and not a plant? When, in discussions about housing conditions, we say that animals should be able to explore their environment, this refers to almost all animals. It goes beyond the species level.

4 The last level of the ‘nature’ of an animal is that it is alive, just as plants are alive. It has characteristics of life, which it shares with all living beings (capacity to grow, to reproduce, self-regulation, etc.). In line with the levels mentioned here, discussed the intrinsic value and integrity of plants in relation to plant breeding, and distinguished phenotypic integrity, genotypic integrity, planttypic integrity and integrity of life.
When we look at the different levels of the ‘nature’ of an animal, we see that they all refer to holistic (or aesthetic if you wish) characteristics that are close to the world of our common-sense perception and experience. Respect for the intrinsic value of living entities involves respect for their specific nature (they have a ‘nature of their own’). Hauskeller (1999) argued that moral consciousness is triggered if we really see the otherness of living nature (or an animal), with all its specific details, in an aesthetic mode of perception. Through the aesthetic experience of beauty we can learn that there are things that are worthy of preservation for their own sake. In the experience of beauty, nature appears to us in its immediate reality as an image. In such an image the inside (our consciousness) and the outside (the living organism that appears in consciousness) are no longer separated. To have this experience we must abstract from nature’s instrumental value, its usefulness for us. Then one can experience nature’s dignity. So we need an aesthetics that takes immediate sensuous perceptual experience seriously, as was long ago also argued by Portmann. 

Telos: The Revival of an Aristotelian Concept in Present Day Ethics

by Michael Hauskeller  to be found in Inquiry, Vol. 48, No. 1, 1–14, March 2005

Genetic engineering is often looked upon with disfavour on the grounds that it involves ‘tampering with nature’. Most philosophers do not take this notion seriously. However, some do. Those who do tend to understand nature in an Aristotelian sense, as the essence or form which is the final end or telos for the sake of which individual organisms live, and which also explains why they are as they are. But is this really a tenable idea? In order to secure its usage in present day ethics, I will first analyze the contexts in which it is applied today, then discuss the notion of telos as it was employed by Aristotle himself, and finally debate its merits and defend it, as far as possible, against common objections. 

Towards a philosophical underpinning of the holistic concept of integrity of organisms within organic agriculture 

E. Baars, and T. Baars  to be found here

The concept of naturalness can be used to characterize organic agriculture and to distinguish it from conventional agriculture, provided naturalness not only refers to the non-use of synthesized chemicals, but also to the ecological and systemic principles, and to a respect for the integrity of living organisms.
Examples of the implicit use of the integrity concept in agriculture will be described to show its practical aspects and implications. The (non-atomistic) holistic concept of integrity of organisms has been the subject of severe scientific criticism – specially from in essence ontological reductionists. In their view, an organism is essentially no more than a complex set of atoms and molecules and its integrity a non-concept. In order to reach scientific acceptance of the integrity concept and to support its use in organic agricultural practice, it needs further underpinning. In this article, based on a critical analysis of (a) ontological and methodological aspects of reductionism, and (b) expert knowledge and the process of pattern recognition and application, the validity of the holistic concept of integrity will be explored.