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What We Owe the Romantics

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Romanticism is recognized as a wellspring of modern-day environmental thought and enthusiasm for nature-preservation, but the character of the affinities between the two is less well understood. Essentially, the Romantics realised that nature only becomes a matter for ethical concern, inspiration and love when the mind and sensibility of the human observer/agent are properly attuned and receptive to its meaning. That attunement involves several factors: a more appropriate scientific paradigm, a subtler appreciation of the impact that the setting of human dwelling, especially landscape, may have on character; the discovery of 'life' and spontaneity as a motif in science and art; a deeper and more complex sense of time; and a feel for place drawn from the life-world rather than physics or economics. Romanticism invented a new language and set of descriptions to illuminate all of these things, one we neglect or forget at our peril.
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Keywords: Coleridge; Enlightenment; Goethe; Romanticism; Schelling; Wordsworth; landscape; time; vitalism; wilderness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2017) of 1.852. 5 Year Impact Factor: 1.8.
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