CFP: “Environment, Aesthetics, and the Arts”; Lahti, 3.-6.6.2010

Call for Papers: “Environment, Aesthetics, and the Arts”
Lahti, Finland, 3.6.-6.6.2010.

Annual Conference of the Nordic Society for Aesthetics 2010

The International Institute of Applied Aesthetics (Lahti, Finland) in association with the Nordic Society for Aesthetics and the Finnish Society for Aesthetics will arrange the 2010 annual conference of the Nordic Society for Aesthetics in Lahti, Finland. The theme of the conference is “Environment, Aesthetics, and the Arts.”

The environment has been a focus of increasing interest within aesthetics for the last decades. At the same time, there has been growing recognition that the term ‘environment’ has come to have multifarious meanings, referring not solely to natural environments but also to forms of human environment. This recognition has revealed a wide array of questions which the notion of environment raises for aesthetics. Do all things called ‘environment’, for example, in virtue of merely being environments therefore share enough aesthetically to warrant a uniform type of aesthetic appreciation for them all or do different environments call for different forms of aesthetic appreciation? This expansion of the array of aesthetic questions related to the environment also provides an opportunity for a more extensive appraisal of the status of environmental aesthetics as a whole. Do the classic texts of environmental aesthetics any longer give tools for successfully coping with the issues which have more recently become the center of attention?

Focus on the environment has led also to an enlargement of the scope of aesthetics to include questions which have initially been raised in such fields as environmental and architectural studies, ecology, cultural geography, and sociology. This enlargement has increased the potential impact of aesthetics on other academic subjects. Another issue which growing interest in the environment and the resultant expansion of the field of aesthetics have brought to light is the relationship between aesthetics and ethics. What, for example, is the relationship between aesthetic and moral values? Is ethics the mother of aesthetics, or is it, ultimately, the other way around? These questions do not concern merely environmental aesthetics, as the relationship between aesthetics and ethics comes into play in a large group of questions in the philosophy of art as well. Recently, empirical and naturalist approaches taking inspiration from evolutionary theories of human cognition have been offered to answer such questions, and these types of answers have had some impact in aesthetics.

Focus on the environment is in many ways relevant also to the philosophy of art. Natural scenery has been a subject of the visual arts for centuries, but we usually respond to landscape paintings differently than we do to natural landscapes. Why is that so, and what does this difference in response tell us about differences between the aesthetics of art and the aesthetics of nature? Also, various forms of contemporary art incorporate objects from the environment within them, and, consequently, raise from another angle the question of the relationship between different aesthetic realms. What sort of relevance, for example, do the putatively-unique features of nature have for the questions regarding the relationship between art and aesthetics?

People interested in exploring these issues are asked to send an abstract of no more than 300 words to iiaa-info(a) Deadline for abstracts is 31.1.2010.

Paper proposals dealing with other issues in aesthetics are also highly welcome. The time allotted to each paper is 40 minutes (30 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion).

Conference venue: Hotel Salpaus, Lahti (

Keynote speakers:

Karsten Harries (Yale University)
Nathalie Heinich (EHESS, Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage , Paris)
Crispin Sartwell (Dickinson College)
Yrjö Sepänmaa (University of Joensuu)

Contact person:

Kalle Puolakka, University of Helsinki

Organizing committee:

Arto Haapala, University of Helsinki
Ossi Naukkarinen, University of Art and Design, Helsinki
Kalle Puolakka, University of Helsinki

Nordic Society for Aesthetics website:

IIAA website:

Finnish Society for Aesthetics website:
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