Realist Ontology and the Aesthetics of Nature

When and Where

Thursday, May 05, 2022 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Alexander Hampton, Department for the Study of Religion


The Eco-Humanities Summer Seminar Series at University College Cork

The DSR's Professor Alexander Hampton will present "Realist Ontology and the Aesthetics of Nature: Methexis, Mimēsis and Poiēsis as a Return to Nature". (Seminar time is shown in Eastern Time)


The anthropocentric, disenchanted, commodified and instrumentalised view of nature, responsible for the anthropogenic destruction that characterises the environmental crisis, has deep roots in the Western intellectual tradition. However, equally a part of the Western tradition, though often-marginalised, is the philosophical tradition of ontological realism. This is the metaphysical position that ideals are real, transcendent realities that originate from a source that is beyond material and human reality, yet act as the ground for both. This consideration examines the resilient capacity of the realist tradition, most powerfully expressed through aesthetics, to disrupt and critique anthropocentrism, through three central, recurrent and evolving concepts: methexis (participation), mimēsis (imitation) and poiēsis (making). Taken together, these articulate and enact a relationship between humans and nature that recognises nature’s own inherent meaning and value apart from those imposed upon it by human minds. These dimensions of aesthetic realism are explored through examples from poetry, painting, music and architecture, taken from antiquity to modernity, each in its own way challenging anthropocentrism. In doing so, realist aesthetics presents itself as a creative resource for rethinking the human-nature relationship.

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University College Cork Eco-Humanities Series