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Stone, T. (2018). Re-envisioning the Nocturnal Sublime: On the Ethics and Aesthetics of Nighttime Lighting. Topoi, In press.
Abstract: Grounded in the practical problem of light pollution, this paper examines the aesthetic dimensions of urban and natural darkness, and its impact on how we perceive and evaluate nighttime lighting. It is argued that competing notions of the sublime, manifested through artificial illumination and the natural night sky respectively, reinforce a geographical dualism between cities and wilderness. To challenge this spatial differentiation, recent work in urban-focused environmental ethics, as well as environmental aesthetics, are utilized to envision the moral and aesthetic possibilities of a new urban nocturnal sublime. Through articulating the aspirations and constraints of a new urban nocturnal experience, this paper elucidates the axiological dimensions of light pollution, draws attention to nightscapes as a site of importance for urban-focused (environmental) philosophy, and examines the enduring relevance of the sublime for both the design of nighttime illumination and the appreciation of the night sky.