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An Uncanny Nature: Taking a Side Road to Aesthetic Appreciation of Environment


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12982

An Uncanny Nature: Taking a Side Road to Aesthetic Appreciation of Environment

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Title: An Uncanny Nature: Taking a Side Road to Aesthetic Appreciation of Environment
Author: Owens Hagerman, Allison
Advisor(s): Kalar, Brent
Committee Member(s): Thomson, Iain
Hayes, Richard
Saito, Yuriko
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Philosophy
Subject: Uncanny
Environmental Aesthetics
LC Subject(s): Environment (Aesthetics)
Nature (Aesthetics)
Nature and culture
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: I’ve always been drawn to all things uncanny, which is how I believe I ended up devoting so much time to the study of philosophy. Those little moments of dissonance within the structure of our everyday lives that give us a glimpse of what’s going on beneath the surface without bringing the surface world to a halt seemed to me deliciously charged with creative potential. In spite of the anxiety that such moments may instill, I find the simple fact that there is always more going on than meets the eye both humbling as well as intriguing; thus, I’ve gone about my life with the impression that the result of encounters with the uncanny heighten our curiosity about the world and our place in it, and teach us to be more aware of the presence of others who might not share our interests or point of view. I was taken aback to learn of the uncanny’s ill repute in Western aesthetic discourse, and I thought I ought to set about trying to figure out what the root of that was and make an effort to salvage the positive aspects of the uncanny from the dustbin of the Tradition. Within this body of work I present a substantial glimpse of the uncanny and outline how its potential comes to light in the work of Freud and Heidegger. I then present the experience of the uncanny through the lens of Japanese aesthetics and its role in Zen Buddhist practice in order to further illuminate its positive potential in ethical terms. This is followed by an overview and critique of the dominant strands in contemporary environmental aesthetic discourse that fail to acknowledge the potential of the uncanny. Lastly, I argue that the cultivation of an appreciation of the uncanny has a crucial role to play in reacquainting Western culture with nature on more respectful and sustainable terms. Generally, I hope to show how the experience of the uncanny and opportunities to cultivate an appreciation of it can play a major role in reshaping the relationship between culture and nature in the direction of dialogue instead of domination.
Graduation Date: May 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12982
Item Available: 2099-05-14

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