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Environmental Values

What We Owe the Romantics

Lewis P. Hinchman and Sandra K. Hinchman

Environmental Values 16(2007): 333-354. doi: 10.3197/096327107X228382


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.

KEYWORDS: Romanticism, Enlightenment, Goethe, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Schelling, vitalism, landscape, time, wilderness

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Is Environmentalism a Humanism? Lewis P. Hinchman

'The World Must be Romanticised ...': The (Environmental) Ethical Implications of Schelling's Organic Worldview.Elaine P. Miller

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial. Emily Brady

Environmental Values and Human Purposes. Ted Benton

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