Praxis Seminar: Research Colloquium in Practical Philosophy 2022/23, Session 19

Marco Damonte

University of Genova

Gardens, Landscapes and “Green Spaces”: From Aesthetic Contemplation To Hedonistic Desperation In Assunto’s Anthropological Thought

16 May 2023, 17h00 (Lisbon Summer Time — GMT+1)

Sala Mattos Romão (Room C201.J – Department of Philosophy)

School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon



The renewed ecological sensibility and the new attention towards the interaction between human beings and nature also have consequences on the design of human environment. In this context, the role of philosophy becomes relevant: my lecture will analyze the contribution of the Italian philosopher Rosario Assunto (1915-1994), who was able to dwell on the role of gardens and, more generally, of the European landscape, from the second post-war period to the so-called economic-boom, to end up with the Eighties, a period marked by strong urbanization and agricultural industrialization. By rediscovering Assunto’s legacy, using his historical method and referring to his philosophical and literary sources, I will answer the following questions: what is a garden? What is a landscape? What is the relationship between a garden and a landscape? His answers are not so much aimed at providing definitions, as at showing the link between the history of gardening and the history of philosophy. Under this point of view, both gardens and the landscapes they are inscribed in express the spirit of an entire era, showing the role played by the contemplation of beauty. However, Assunto goes beyond both the Neoplatonic concept of beauty and the romantic ideal linked to the landscape: he considers the garden as a real language, aiming at the flourishing of the human being. These considerations help to understand Assunto’s ferocious criticism of “green-spaces”, devoid of aesthetic value and agricultural factories, unable to generate landscapes. In both cases, nature is plagued by the urges of economy and the frenzy of the modern world, whereby lifestyle dehumanizes human beings. Despite the new context where we find ourselves, Assunto’s reflection, deprived of any excess of historicism and erudition that may characterize it, remains a warning to anyone due to design the living space for human beings, so that it truly contributes to an integral humanity.