Guide Thinking through Landscape

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Description Our attitude to nature has changed over time. This book explores the historical, literary and philosophical origins of the changes in our attitude to nature that allowed environmental catastrophes to happen. It features a wealth of examples from around the world to help understand the contemporary environmental crisis in the context of both the built and natural environment.

Berque locates the start of this change in human labour and urban elites being cut off from nature. Nature became an imaginary construct masking our real interaction with the natural world. He argues that this gave rise to a theoretical and literary appreciation of landscape at the expense of an effective practical engagement with nature. Yet this approach did not have disastrous consequences until the advent of western industrialization.

Customers can email us for urgent order, we will reply ASAP. Refund PolicyAll the content is emailed instantly in your inbox so all our customers are happy and satisfied with the purchased product. If an item is faulty, wrongly described, or different from the sample shown then we will meet our legal obligation which may include refunding the purchase price and delivery charges. Duplicated Orders which are purchased accidentally. We only refund one of them. Psychology and philosophy stress the importance of the relationship between health and landscape in different ways.

Psychology, for instance, addresses this issue through psycho-evolutionary frameworks and the so-called ART theory, all of which focus on stress reduction. Philosophy, on the other hand, proposes a place-attachment approach which originates from phenomenology and human geography. One of the most important theories of place-attachment is called topophilia , which has nowadays been expanded to include the concept of biophilia.

All these theories demonstrate, from different points of view, the intimate connection between our body, our health and the landscape in which we live, or merely look at. Psychophysiological theories of stress reduction Ulrich, ; Ulrich et al. In these works, stress is usually defined as the process by which individuals respond psychologically, physiologically, and often behaviorally to situations that challenge or threaten their well-being Ulrich et al.

These theories played a pioneering role in the determination of health by natural settings, yet can be called into question from a theoretical point of view. Ulrich and Ulrich et al. According to this framework, the color green signifying, for example, refuge would be less stressful than red or yellow, which signify fire Ulrich et al. The reason for this preference is directly related to the link between evolution and aesthetic response: nature helped proto-humans to recover from acute stress and to prepare them for the next survival task see also Hartig et al.

The psycho-evolutionary theory has the merit of initiating the debate on the naturalization of landscape see Appleton, ; Dutton, , ; Di Summa-Knoop, , yet it poses a number of problems. Firstly, an evolution-based theory of stress reduction or landscape preference cannot be demonstrated. Secondly, it risks relying on ad hoc hypotheses to explain specific situations. And finally, such a strategy for the naturalization of landscape often underestimates the role of cultural and sociological elements in addressing the health-landscape connection.

The Experience of Nature Kaplan and Kaplan, examines the qualities that characterize restorative environments, that is to say, environments that help restore our attention. Irritability, anxiety, stress, lack of perception, and lack of interest in human beings have all been recognized as a direct consequence of attention fatigue. Kaplan and Kaplan developed ART Attention Restoration Theory on the basis that we can better concentrate and restore our directed attention after experiencing nature, since during that experience we are attracted by an involuntary attention or fascination Kaplan and Kaplan, ; Kaplan, ; Warber et al.

Taking inspiration from Kaplan and Kaplan , p. According to Kaplan and Kaplan , pp. This psychological theory proposes a specific framework, focused on restoration of attention and the involuntary role of fascination in human mind. It is one of the most interesting studies explaining the link between health and nature, even though it does not take explicitly into account the cultural aspect of perception. The majority of the research in environmental psychology follows either ART or stress reduction theory, or both of them Bratman et al.

The main difference between the two relates to the fact that the former is more focused on cognition, the latter on evolutionary elements. However, one of the most important contributions to this debate came from the field of human geography, when Tuan , defined the concept of place-attachment in terms of topophilia , i. Tuan was one of the first geographers to provide an understanding of place as a product of perceptive and cultural elements: place and perceiver are linked by values, ethical commitments, and feelings. He also introduced the idea that anonymous space is changed into articulated geography through the actions and values of people.

His distinction between space and place and his genealogy of the concept of place have become very important for many geographers, philosophers, and sociologists, as well as for cultural approaches to place in general. His idea of topophilia has also been studied in connection with well-being, meaning that individual preferences for specific places and restorative environments are significantly associated with quality of life Ogunseitan, ; Ruan and Hogben, Several other concepts — which can be considered variations on the theme — such as sense of place, place-identity and place-attachment, were developed from the concept of topophilia , and analyzed through both experimental research and philosophical works Lewicka, Recently, the concept of topophilia has reemerged in relation to biophilia.

The attempt at linking topophilia and biophilia Sampson, ; Beery et al. The role of the concept of topophilia and its variations has been widely recognized in the literature Lewicka, Its recent developments demonstrate also that there is a need to connect cultural approaches to place-attachment with naturalized ones. Over recent decades much evidence — mostly medical — of the health-landscape relationship has been provided.

The main theory on which this evidence is based and toward which it leads is known as SDH theory. In this section we analyze the principal medical evidence reported, summarize SDH theory and attempt to provide a new definition of health, based on notions of both agency and landscape. The SDH approach is quite interesting in that it defines a broader concept of health, yet we feel that the other part of the process, i.

The idea of processual landscape aims to resolve this problem. The late s and the early years of the new millennium witnessed mounting evidence in support of the necessary relationship between health and well-being and landscape. This evidence prompts us to question the concepts of care, health and place of care, as well as the role of the patient him or herself. In other words, it prompts us to question the relationship between medical structure and agency.

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The idea of therapeutic landscapes can apply to a wide variety of landscapes: from the unique and specific ones to ordinary scenes. The category encompasses national parks, local urban landscapes, gardens Milligan et al. Moreover, the idea of therapeutic landscape implies the improvement of the medical community, specifically in terms of the relationship between health structure and agency Gesler, Recently, the concept of therapeutic landscapes has been broadened to include some other symbolic terms referring to place-attachment.

However, despite its different meanings and applications, the notion of therapeutic landscapes allows us to question the idea that physical and mental health problems are merely personal issues which should be addressed solely through individual-based interventions Wood et al.

5. The Information Landscape: Thinking About Information Formats

Many other studies also present ample medical evidence both direct and indirect of the health-landscape relationship. The broader climate change discussion includes an attempt to connect biodiversity and medicine: the thesis advanced in this respect is that we need to protect global biodiversity and landscapes because the majority of the medicines we use come from natural resources Butkus, Thus, health practitioners and policymakers not only recognize the impact of place and physical and social environments on health and well-being Hordyk et al.

All this evidence led to the drafting of the UN document on Commission on Social Determinants of Health [CSDH] and World Conference on Social Determinants of Health and to the SDH approach Solar and Irwin, , which can be considered both further evidence of the relationship between health and landscape and, better still, as the final result of a decades-long struggle.

SDH is the study of the full set of conditions under which living takes place , and their impact on health. Both the document and the consequent approach link health to a number of elements, including among others governance, environment, education, employment, social security, food, housing, water, transport, and energy. Health is thus considered as being socially determined. However, in order to avoid falling into the trap of environmental determinism Blacksher and Lovasi, , it is necessary to specify the role played by the concept of agency.

The common-sense meaning of health refers to the biological realm and implies the absence of a pathological condition both physiological and psychological. Yet contemporary definitions of health are focused on both the notion of agency e. In this case, health and the space of the agent are considered as inseparable concepts; accordingly, determinants of health can thus be divided into: 1 individual, 2 social, and 3 environmental.

In this scenario, the pitfall of environmental determinism is overcome by specifying and analyzing the culture and perceptional preferences of the agent Blacksher and Lovasi, , p. Although the concept of SDH may risk appearing somewhat vague and overly broad, the notion of landscape, on the other hand of which we offer both an ecological and cultural definition , is an appropriate and specific tool for describing the relationship between our body, our health, our well-being and the space around us. We can reformulate the structure-agency binomial pair into the landscape-perceiver one.

We will explain the rich concept of landscape in the following section, before offering a definition of processual landscape which will finally be used to comprehend the notion of health and propose a theoretical framework to account for the health-landscape relationship. In this section of the paper we provide a comprehensive definition of landscape which connects both the cultural and ecological dimensions.

We consider it one of the key factors for recognizing the role of landscape in determining well-being and health. When we talk about landscape several features are implied: cultural, visual, artistic and, we hold, ecological and naturalist. The following paragraphs aim to explain and connect all these dimensions through the bridge concept of affordance.

We also demonstrate that landscape can be distinguished from other similar concepts such as space, place and territory, due to its perceptual implications and, in particular, its aesthetic and therapeutic qualities. We live embedded in landscape and, as we add, we perceive it through our whole body , and therefore it affects our well-being. This is why we need a more comprehensive definition of landscape. Thanks to pioneering contributions by a large number of scholars Relph, ; Tuan, ; Berque, ; Roger, ; Casey, ; Malpas, , the current aesthetic meaning of landscape goes beyond the modern idea of landscape as a view or postcard.

In other words, landscape implies at the same time both reality and the appearance of reality Berque, , p. This means that landscape can be defined as something real, as constituted by actual objects something out there , but at the same time it can be described as an appearance, insofar as it is a product of our way of seeing, depicting and painting it.

It is important to specify, however, that before being cultural, landscape was and still is considered something visual and connected to the figurative arts. From an historical point of view, the European notion of landscape was born within painting, and only as a feature of the Western Modern age. The French research tradition on landscape affirms that some societies of past centuries were not landscape-aware, and the emergence of the concept of landscape is a specific characteristic of Ancient China — almost two thousand years ago — and Modern Western Europe Berque, , For example, it is impossible to find any reference to it in ancient societies, such as, for example, Ancient Greek society, especially in philosophical and literary sources.

Thus the term appears in literature after painters had already discovered it. This idea that landscape is a portion of the Earth that can be viewed from one spot is shared by several authors Cosgrove, — ; Jackson, ; Cresswell, It is a term that conveys a specific meaning from an artistic point of view, but which also implies a precise idea of space, embedded in a specific culture. As Jackson , pp.

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And because that system is made by the community and for the community, landscape is not fixed once and for all; it is always subject to sudden or unpredictable changes. Indeed, landscape as a way of looking at the land assumes different meanings. The history of the concept of landscape moves forward from the idea of vision Shapiro, , or artistic representation, to landscape as a cultural product.

To date, the main definition of landscape remains the cultural one, which strikes a balance between aesthetics and memory, perception and place-attachment, history and no-places. Recently, the Council of Europe has attempted to provide an even more comprehensive definition of landscape, incorporating steps toward defining the political and ethical aspects of this concept.

The ELC acknowledges that landscape is not simply a view, but also a place with its own cultural and social dimension see also Howard, , p. Most importantly, the Convention overcomes the previous aesthetic distinction between beautiful and ugly places, between outstanding landscapes and those simply not worth considering.

Its main innovation is the idea that everything is landscape : ugly areas as well as beautiful ones, urban surroundings as well as rural ones. According to the ELC, all landscapes contribute to the formation of local culture, for good and for bad, and all have an impact on human well-being and the consolidation of European identity. Its study and management requires both cultural and ecological approaches. A landscape has its own specific identity, which has to be safeguarded and protected, but at the same time it requires cross-border cooperation at the local and regional levels to prepare and implement joint landscape programs Council of Europe, Although the ELC also includes elements that allow us to consider landscape as a common good and even a human right, this topic falls beyond the scope of this paper see Egoz et al.

What we have attempted to provide in this section is simply a brief history of the concept of landscape from a visual, perceptional, and cultural point of view. Nevertheless, in order to avoid the risk of separation and to bridge the gap between social and natural sciences in their approach to this concept, we believe it is necessary to take a step forward in the naturalization of landscape and make an original contribution. That is what we will attempt to do in the next section.

The next step in providing a broader account of landscape is its naturalization 2 in connection with ecology. This link with the natural and behavioral sciences biology, medicine, psychology, and ecology is still under-theorized. There remains, in fact, a sharp separation between those who study landscape as a physical environment and those who study it as a social and cultural product. We, on the other hand, argue that the study of landscape both as a cultural product and an ecological process should be considered a priority, both for its definition and for its management. Two main questions are involved in this debate: 1 How do we perceive landscape?

Some earlier arguments put forward as part of this debate may prove clarifying in this respect. Some authors have successfully tried to connect aesthetics and ecology Bourassa, ; Naveh, , ; Nassauer, , , ; Carlson, Specifically, these authors are architects and ecologists who believe in a concept of landscape which broadens the range of and possibilities for its management.

Their thesis is based on the acknowledgment that landscape is modeled from the social interactions which produce new and always adaptive aesthetic, cultural and ecological definitions. For instance, Daniel argues that visual landscape quality assessment in the 21st century is a product of the relationship between different perspectives: expert and designer parameters, sensory and perceptual parameters and cognitive constructs Daniel, , p. These three kinds of parameters reflect respectively three definitions of landscape: landscape as a view, as a culture-rich environment and as a portion of territory considered the prerogative of ecologists, architects, and other specialists.

Yet it seems that, until now, ecological values and socio-cultural paradigms have been opposed.

The answer is always complex, but our ways of perceiving landscape surely influence how we produce, create and dwell in it. Similarly, Nassauer , p.

Auguste Berque Thinking Through Landscape

The perception of landscape thus assumes a pivotal role. This brief excursus shows the effort which has been made by ecologists and architects to consider the cultural and perceptional side of landscape, while for their part, those working in the humanities have attempted to ground landscape theory in biology and evolution as outlined in the previous sections. A pivotal role in this debate has been played by aesthetic preferences, i. Naturalization through evolution is one possible strategy. Appleton analyses major forms of art including poetry and painting in terms of being refuge-dominant or prospect-dominant landscapes.

His theory does not exclude the idea of culture in the development of aesthetic values, but connects cultural landscape theory with ecological and ethological theses. In art theory as well as in the debate about our aesthetic preferences there is major opposition between culture-based theories of perception see Di Summa-Knoop, , p.

The naturalization of art implies that in perceiving and producing art we mostly follow evolutionary and adaptive bases. Evolutionary psychology and art theory based on sexual selection and genetic inheritance share a transversal and inclusive concept of art, and they argue that art has been present in all cultures. There is and always has been art in all societies, because it allowed human beings to survive and reproduce Dutton, , p. According to this theory, the origin of landscape preference relies on a combination of the aforementioned studies by Appleton and evolutionary psychology as developed by Ulrich and Kaplan Moreover, Dutton refers to the famous savannah hypothesis on landscape tastes Orians and Heerwagen, ; Falk and Balling, , which is based on the idea that, like the hominids in the African savannah, human beings continue to prefer open, mildly flat landscapes savannah-like settings , with water directly in view and a clear way both to avoid predators and to keep an eye on them.

Dutton emphasizes that this kind of explanation of landscape tastes implies that the cultural background plays a minimal or null role. Yet the naturalization of art does not necessarily always deny the role of culture and cultural background in aesthetic appraisal. Naturalism generally implies an attempt to ground its conclusions in empirical findings. Moreover, although many neuroscientists and philosophers of art follow only psycho-evolutionary theory, others argue that emotions, which play a pivotal role in aesthetic appraisal, may be different in different cultural settings Prinz, , pp.

Likewise, we exclude neither culture nor naturalization from the determination of perception of landscape, and consequently from its definition. On the contrary, we believe that a broader and more comprehensive theory of landscape will prove a key factor in explaining why there is such a close and far-reaching relationship between health and landscape.

If it is agreed that cultural background may determine the psychological and emotional well-being of the agent, then it is the naturalization of landscape which is able to explain its connection with medically understood health. In the end, to naturalize landscape without denying its cultural dimension, we need to focus on how we perceive it. In order to understand what landscape is and how it affects our health, we have to address biological and ecological theories of perception of the environment.

The perception of landscape is a complex scheme insofar as we participate in the construction of our environment. We propose to firstly focus on the role of the agent and to consider landscape as the product of a group of histories. We take inspiration from Berque , according to whom different scales participate in the construction of landscape through human perception.

The biological dimension implies different approaches: the evolutionary, the ecological and the embodiment theory of knowledge and perception. While the analysis of the cultural origin of landscape and its visual dimension is now clear see Introduction and Main Theoretical Issues and Approaches , we have yet to demonstrate how the concept of landscape could be naturalized through a theory of perception.

Even though naturalization has already been attempted by both evolution-based and neurophysiology-based approaches, the theory we favor when analyzing landscape perception is J. By questioning the classical idea of perception, we argue, Gibson questions the idea of landscape as well. But in both cases the application implies nothing less than a change of paradigm.

According to Heft , research into perception and aesthetics in environmental psychology has long been dominated by a concept of vision that can be traced at least as far back as the Renaissance. In this old paradigm, vision is considered the primary element in defining landscape and is conceptualized as an image-capturing process Heft, , p.

Gibson, the other hand, introduces a new theory of perception by asking what role perceiving plays in the everyday functioning of an organism. Perceiving becomes a part of the ongoing processes that make up the life of an organism, and is necessary to its survival. Real vision also concerns the free movement of the head ambient vision and the free movement of the body ambulatory vision.

Furthermore, the perceiver finds himself emplaced with a body in an ecosystem. There are differences between the two frameworks, but they share a non-objectivist perspective of vision.

They do not know how to look | Thinking through Landscape | Taylor & Francis Group

That is, he does not gaze upon a world that is finite and complete, and proceeds to fashion a representation of it. Gibson strongly argues against indirect perception 5 and claims that an organism directly perceives meaning from the environment and that this happens at the level of medium, surfaces, substances, and events that are relevant to its life. In order to specify the moment of perception and exemplify the relationship between perceiver and medium, Gibson introduces the concept of affordance : in the flow of perception the human perceiver directly picks up affordances.

It is in this context that a series of illusions are usually presented as the basis of Gestalt theory. They demonstrate how visual perception is determined by a non-mediated reconstruction of the context of the stimuli. For Gestalt theory, the meaning or the value of a thing seems to be perceived just as immediately as its color. What is an affordance , then? Using this new term, Gibson describes what environment affords to animals: terrain, water, fire, objects, tools, and other animals.

The crucial point is to understand how the environment affords that is, gives the possibility of perception and action. The composition and the layout of surfaces constitute what they afford, and affordance emerges only when different characteristics of individuals, such as their physical dimensions and abilities, social needs and personal intensions, are matched with the features of the environment.

Instead of perceiving an object environment, and then determining some future action through hypothesis testing over a symbolic world model, we directly perceive what the environment affords given our own physical embodiment. This relational character of affordances implies that they are not properties of either the environment or the animal. Affordances, Chemero , p. It is something unique for every animal and it belongs to and emerges within the relationship between the environment and the perceiver.

Different layouts afford different behaviors for different animals, with mechanically different encounters. The different ingredients of the environment have different affordances for nutrition and manufacture; different objects have different affordances for manipulation. Also, human and non-human beings reciprocally afford each other a complex set of interactions. Finally, affordance is related to movement: through the affordances of the environment, the body in movement perceives the main invariants of said environment.

According to Mossio and Taraborelli , Gibson shares with other authors a sensorimotor approach to perception, meaning that the coupling between motion and the senses is the key to understanding perceptual phenomena: there is no fixed perception such as the postcard view. Gibson , p. We could even associate landscape itself with the affordances if provides cf.

Berque, , i. In the recent debate about affordance and perception, Rietveld and Kiverstein reject the idea that affordances are features of the environment or mechanical elements with ergonomic possibilities. Rietveld and Kiverstein , p. The main point of this approach is that every affordance is related to specific skills and, in the case of human beings, to sociocultural practices.

Seen this way, affordances are located in the context of a form of life. Human beings embedded in a landscape of affordances develop specific skills though their capacity to distinguish what is correct, optimal, adequate or inadequate. Concerning the cultural and biological aspects of affordances, Rietveld and Kiverstein consider that the most important thing is the practice in which an ability is embedded.

Affordances have an existence that is relative to a form of life. Affordances as relational properties depend for their existence both on aspects of the material environment and on the abilities available in a form of life. We see the theory of affordance as fundamental to our proposal of a landscape incorporating both naturalistic and ecological features in our perception of the space around us.

The theory developed and described so far in this paper implies important philosophical consequences. The notion of process is not new in the sociological and philosophical analysis of place and landscape Lefebvre, ; De Certeau, ; Massey, , yet the novelty and specificity of the framework we propose here lies in the fact that it integrates most of those elements concurring in the creation of landscape.

Our view accounts for the creation of landscape as an interaction between human beings and nature and its manifestation as place, space, and landscape that does not give rise to an opposition between the two extremes or a preeminence of one over the other. On the contrary, human beings are characterized as being embedded in the place, in nature and in landscape.

Human beings and landscape are therefore considered as involved in a mutual and dynamic relationship. By basing our proposal on the theory of affordances we can state that perceiving the environment and consequently living in the landscape is not merely a question of perceiving a value-free physical object to which a meaning is somehow added arbitrarily. There is no passive place out there: landscape is not fixed and pre-given, but rather a dynamic ecological system, in which both cultural and ecological elements play a constitutive role.

Landscape, we conclude, can be defined as processual : i. Its reality depends on the processes of which it is made up, in the same way as the affordances offered by the environment do not exist without interaction, and yet do not commit us to a purely constructivist approach. Rather, landscapes are the product of the dialectic between culture and the affordances of a place.

This relationship is not captured by a realist framework; nor can it be conceived as a constructivist determination. Rather, it is a process in continual evolution, occurring in the interaction between the environment with the complexity of its affordances and invariants and the perceiver: a body in motion using its physical and cultural agency thought and language are also motions , in order to establish a relationship with and a boundary for the environment. A processual landscape is what continuously results from this kind of ongoing dynamics, and it generates what we call places, spaces and landscapes.

The integrative notion of processual landscape allows us to take into consideration the connection with health and our well-being on the basis of the simple, yet often under-theorized, idea that we are perceiving organisms cultural and biological agents in the environment. Their life, body and perception grounded in the theory of affordance cannot be detached from landscape.

Consequently, we cannot discuss our health and well-being without mentioning, considering, and implementing our landscape. In section on Research Focused on Restorative Environments we state that health and the space of the agent are considered inseparable concepts; accordingly, the determinants of health can be divided into three categories: 1 individual, 2 social, 3 environmental.

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We provided a brief summary of the contemporary definitions of health as a connecting agency and a set of social determinants. In the analysis of social determinants, we consider landscape as pivotal. Unfortunately, current accounts of landscape tend to underestimate the agential dimension, and it is this shortcoming that our framework aims to redress. We propose a way to address the relationship between health and well-being not just through the medical, sociological and psychological evidence produced by decades of studies, but rather through a common factor in the debate about health and therefore about landscape: agency.

The agential dimension of the processual landscape provides the missing link with health and well-being. The concept of agency, firstly developed by Anscombe and Davidson , currently presents various approaches and different applications in philosophy, psychology, biology, and cognitive sciences Schlosser, It is thanks to Gibson, and also to the philosophical phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, that in this paper the idea of agency can play a pivotal role for the definition of both landscape and health.

All human beings involved in the perception of landscape and in its mutual creation can be considered as agents; thus perceiving does not imply a landscape as a collection of given data, but rather it involves an actual experience and interaction Hamlyn, , p. On the other side, the most recent theories of health affirm that it is agency-based. The very idea of our paper consists thus in introducing the term agency in the theory of landscape perception, by naturalizing landscape, even though we do not eliminate the cultural approach to space and place, but rather we broaden and complete it.

Agency appears to be the bridging concept between landscape and health: an ecological approach to landscape implies agency; on the other side, a systemic vision of health involves agency. The aim of this paper is not to produce an exhaustive theory of perception and agency, but to show we become agents when we perceive a landscape.

This act is at the same time the result of our cultural background and our direct and mutual apprehension of affordances of a place. The relationship with landscape based on the concept of culture and affordance ecological psychology is the theoretical tool which allows us to understand the bond between health and the environment. After an overview of the literature on the health-landscape relationship from the psychological, medical and biological points of view we propose some fundamental theoretical steps:.

The concept of processual landscape is therefore the theoretical demonstration of the health-landscape relationship. We propose a framework potentially capable of explaining the reason for our link with landscape. In order to complete this picture, we need a theoretical framework explaining how the perception of landscape works.

Perception is the key to explaining the casual relationship which exists between us and our landscape. We perceive landscape as we build it, and at the same time we are in a co-determinant relationship with it. This is the preliminary result of our research, which may be completed by studying the practical consequences of our framework. Insofar as health is greatly affected by landscape, this construction represents something more than just part of our heritage or a place to be preserved for the aesthetic pleasure it provides. Rather, we can begin to talk about the right to landscape Egoz et al.

LM gathered the main body of data, provided the basic framework of research, draw all the diagrams, wrote the first draft of all sections except Evidence of the Health-Landscape Relationship: Toward a New Definition of Health, and rewrote a full version. Both authors discussed the general outline of the article and contributed with comments and revisions. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. The authors wish to thank Leonardo Bich for his careful reading of and useful remarks regarding a previous version of this paper.

The authors also thank Hanne de Jaegher for her valuable feedback. The debate arouses in epistemology Quine, , and has been developed for instance by recurring to neuroscience in philosophy of mind see Godfrey-Smith, The naturalization of perception of landscape can involve evolutionary theory, theory of mind, evolutionary psychology and, specifically for our purpose, ecological psychology.

Even though we focus here on landscape perception, we should not forget that embodiment theory was first introduced by Varela et al. On the other side, Neisser , , while trying to bring together ecological and cognitive psychology, develops the idea of perceptual cycle. This concept implies the fact that information picked up through perception activates what he calls schemata , which in turn guide attention and action leading to the search for additional information. Neisser , p.

Namely, what Neisser , p. Debate in philosophy of science and cognitive science shows that agency is possible even without representational mental states, both in human-being and generally in organisms e. In addition, the thesis that our perception and esthetical judgment are agency-based has been recently supported by neurological literature and recent neuroimaging experiments Di Dio et al. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Front Psychol v. Front Psychol. Published online May 3. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.

This article was submitted to Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Received Jan 18; Accepted Apr 6. The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author s or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Abstract In this paper we address a frontier topic in the humanities, namely how the cultural and natural construction that we call landscape affects well-being and health. Keywords: affordance, agency, ecological psychology, health, landscape, naturalistic aesthetics, well-being, perception.

Introduction It is common to hear that contact with nature, in its many and diverse forms, promotes human health. Main Theoretical Issues and Approaches Many papers in contemporary literature analyze data series related to how well-being could be effectively improved by exposure to natural landscapes see Coles and Millman, Research Focused on Restorative Environments Psychology and philosophy stress the importance of the relationship between health and landscape in different ways.

Attention Restoration Theory Psychology The Experience of Nature Kaplan and Kaplan, examines the qualities that characterize restorative environments, that is to say, environments that help restore our attention. Evidence of the Health-Landscape Relationship: Toward a New Definition of Health Over recent decades much evidence — mostly medical — of the health-landscape relationship has been provided.

What is Landscape? The Cultural Approach and Beyond In this section of the paper we provide a comprehensive definition of landscape which connects both the cultural and ecological dimensions. A Step Toward Biology and Ecology: Naturalization of Landscape The next step in providing a broader account of landscape is its naturalization 2 in connection with ecology.

Open in a separate window. Affordances as the Possibilities Offered to Living Organisms In order to specify the moment of perception and exemplify the relationship between perceiver and medium, Gibson introduces the concept of affordance : in the flow of perception the human perceiver directly picks up affordances. Processual Landscape: A Framework Connecting Health and Landscape We see the theory of affordance as fundamental to our proposal of a landscape incorporating both naturalistic and ecological features in our perception of the space around us.

Cultural theory considers landscape to be a cultural product, in which the perceiver plays an important role in determining landscape through their collective history, personal stories and, in short, cultural background. The relationship between landscape and the cultural perceiver is based on the recognition of cultural invariants of landscape, which are considered important in order to safeguard places and space. The cultural approach analyses the emergence and history of the concept of landscape from its pictorial and visual beginnings in 15th century Europe right up to the evolution of a more contemporary and comprehensive idea of a perceived landscape existing in close relation with the life of its inhabitants.