Philippe Nys

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Philippe Nys
Occupation Philosopher
Nationality Belgian

Philippe Nys (1947, Tournai) is a Belgian-born French philosopher. The focus of his work is hermeneutics, poetics and theory of Space's design. He is associated professor (maître de conférances) at the University of Paris8 (UFR ARTS, department of Fine Arts), member of the research teams EA 4010 Arts des images et Art contemporain/ Arts of Images and Contemporary Art, AMP : Architecture Milieu Paysage/ Architecture Milieu Landscape at the National School of Architecture of Paris La Villette. He is lecturer in several schools of architecture and landscape such as Paris-Belleville, Versailles, Lille.

Life and career[edit]

Philippe Nys in 1970 obtains his agrégation in Philosophy and Literature and his B.A. in Philosophy and Literature with a specialisation in Roman Philology and a thesis on Georges Bataille’s Novels[1] at the Free University of Brussels. In 1973 he obtains his B.A. in Philosophy[2] with the thesis Remarks on ‘What is Metaphysics ?’ of Martin Heidegger.[3] In 1995 he obtains his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Literature with a specialisation in philosophy with a thesis on Elements for Hermeneutics and Phenomenology of Dwelling Places : Garden – Architecture – Landscape.[4] In 1998 and 2002 he receives the qualification from the National Council of French Universities in aesthetics.[5]



1999 - The Explored Garden. A Hermeneutics of Place. Volume One. (Le jardin exploré. Une herméneutique du lieu, volume un), Editions de l’Imprimeur, Paris-Besançon. As places born of desire, gardens have been abundantly commented on from the historic viewpoint. If they are often misunderstood, their role in the domains of heritage, architecture and urbanism is nonetheless increasingly recognized. As for their status in the arts though, from an aesthetic viewpoint it is problematic and remains today, as it was in the past, a vector for project and meaning. The theme of the garden is thus that of an eminently complex place – one that calls on diverse knowledge and techniques, embodies deep symbolic meaning, invents its own language, and poses questions as to its process of emergence and its nature. What can we say of the relationships established between the place itself (the in situ), the experience that leads up to and provokes such a space (the in actu) and the literary, pictorial or photographic representations (the in visu) which depict, anticipate or petrify it ? This book attempts to find answers to questions like these by elaborating a theory of the art of gardens, such as has been developed in Western tradition from the time of the Greeks to today. The philosophic framework of hermeneutics enables us to define the art of gardens as an art of interpretation, whose purely philosophic explanation derives from the historic basis that founds this tradition. It thus acquires the status of a specific hermeneutics with a universal vocation, a sort of permanent laboratory in which is embodied a vital part of our relation to the world.

1998 - Architecture and the Body (L’architecture au corps), Editors : Philippe Nys,Chris Younès and Michel Mangematin, Bruxelles, Editions Ousia, collection Recueil

The body is always in the center of our environmental contexts. The main axis of this volume is to think of architecture in its anthropological, ethical and aesthetical reality "against" its structural function.

1997 - Logic of Place and Human Work (Logique du lieu et œuvre humaine), Editors : Augustin Berque and Philippe Nys, Bruxelles, Editions Ousia, collection Recueil

The logic of place is historically linked to a very important historical context, the "overcoming of modernity" ( Tokyo colloquium in 1942) and the radical ontological question raised by Heidegger. This logic is also established on inspiration, creating all human work.

1997 - Philippe Nys Editor of Landscape. Function of Aesthetic in Modern Society (1962) from Joachim Ritter, translated from German by Gérard Raulet (1978), with “The Mont Ventoux Ascension” from Petrarch, the poem of Schiller “The Walking”, a commentary of Massimo Venturi Ferriolo and a general introduction of Philippe Nys,Paris-Besançon, Editions de l’Imprimeur, collection Jardins et Paysages.

Ritters’s thesis consists in showing how the emergence of the aesthetic feeling of nature had its starting point in the “divorce” between man and nature. The aesthetic function proper to modernity was built on the loss of the Aristotelician theoretical concept, which saw nature as a whole and cosmos. Separated from the cosmos, man may become free and responsible for the world and for himself. Ritter’s reflexion ends on the need to develop “specific organs” in the contemporary world – the garden being one of them next to landscape and cities.

1996 - The Sense of Place : Logos, Topos, Aisthesis (Sens du lieu : Logos, Topos, Aisthesis), Editors : Philippe Nys, Chris Younès and Michel Mangematin, Bruxelles, Editions Ousia, collection Recueil.

Architecture is always, in the same gesture, building and thought. The question of place involves relationships between individual and collective identity, history and meanings in a contemporary world submitted to blind mechanisms which seem full of power. Architecture participates in this production but it is also a place which resists this domination. The aim of the book is to open a theoretical and historical horizon to give a newsense to history.

1995 - The Garden, Art and Place of Memory (Le jardin, art et lieu de mémoire), Editors : Philippe Nys and Monique Mosser Paris-Besançon, Editions de l’Imprimeur, collection Jardins et Paysages

We are living at a time in human culture when, once again, everything seems to be uncertain. Interest in memory is expanding in phase with this uncertainty and confusion. A culture that loses its memory or that destroys it has no culture. A culture that does not give people the chance to build their own identity and to die in peace is not a culture. A culture no longer capable of creating public and private places worthy of praise and truth is incapable of living and dying; it does nothing more than survive. Gardens condense all these issues : they are charged with history, metaphysics and aesthetics, but they also reflect politics and go to the heart of the symbolic construction of the individual in the world, the anonymous traveller on this earth. Taking thought on the garden and its design as an art and on the garden as a place of memory amounts to producing historical meaning for the contemporary world.

1994 - Trees : Unreal Nature Reproduced (Irréelle Nature Reproduite– Arbre)

Poetic notations for the 11th in the series of Artbooks by Jean-Paul Ruiz and 25 photographs taken from a microscope by Voichita Bucur, researcher at INRA (Paris)

Editorial Activities[edit]

Editor of the Series “Art(s) des Lieux”, Brussels, Ousia Editions, since 2003 Two volumes edited.

Founder Member and Member of the Editorial Committee of the Periodical “Landscape Notebook” (Les Carnets du Paysage), since 1998 Paris-Arles, National School of Landscape, Versailles and Actes Sud Publishers.

Co-Editor of “Gardens and Landscapes”, Series edited by Philippe Nys and Monique Mosser, Paris-Besançon, Editions de l’Imprimeur, since 1995.

This series provides vital references for students, architects, town planners, historians and philosophers as well as for readers interested in gardens, garden-makers and collectors. By publishing fundamental works of the past – forgotten, unknown or un-translated – along with French and foreign, historic and contemporary, aesthetic and theoretical works, we hope to reveal the complexity and hidden wealth of a prime source of poetic imagination. Eight titles published.

Editor of the Series “Recueil”, Brussels, Ousia Editions, since 1989

The main line of the series is to publish collective volumes around a philosophical theme within an interdisciplinary framework. Twenty issues, of which some volumes deal with the relationships between architecture, philosophy, space and landscape.



2006 - Member of the winner's team for a Project and Planning for a Center of Landscape and Rural Development, Saint Benoît du Sault Cultural Ministry, Agricultural Ministry and different local and regional Powers

2000 - Council of Europe Landscape Award 2000 Participants : Europe, a Common Heritage, Council of Europe, Strasbourg - European Foundation for Heritage Skills, Council of Europe, Strasbourg

1997/1999 - International Competition “The Two Riverbank Garden and Landesgartenschau 2004 Kehl-Strasbourg”, Strasbourg-Kehl

1997/1999 - Survey, Seminars and Conference for the “Cultural and Artistic Reutilization of the cultural of Historical Heritage of Europe”, Paris and Rome, Cultural Encounter Center-Council of Europe

1997/1999 - Project, Planning and Report of The International Landscape Center-Cultural Encounter Center, Cultural Ministry, Ministry for the Environment and National and Development, Agricultural Ministry

1995 - Study and Report for the Development of the Landscapes and Gardens of the Nord-Picardie Region, Regional Administration for Facilities and Amenities


2006/Present - Associate Consultant with the landscape Agency SEIWOOO / Alban mannisi

2000/2009 - Associate Consultant with the landscape Agency “Signes” (Paris) (Competition “Restoration of the Park of Buttes-Chaumont”, ...etc.)

1997/2005 - Consultant for the Landscape Agency “Empreinte” (Lille) for the Competition for the Design and Utilisation of the Landscape and Surroundings of the Achères Treatment Plant (Interdepartment Administration for the Rehabilitation of the Paris Region -Syndicat interdépartemental pour l’assainissement de l’agglomération parisienne(SIAPP), Project Winner, in the Process of being implemented

1994 - Consultant for “PUR”, Consultancy and Advisory Body, Genval, Belgium Competition for Ideas for the Reconversion of the Site and Surroundings of the Former Prison of St Léonard Liège, Belgium


  • The Garden in the Age of Reason, Lumières et Romantisme, Annales de l'Institut de philosophie de l'Université libre de Bruxelles, Paris, Vrin, 1989, pp. 57–76
  • Reflections on the Dialogue between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Jünger, L’expérience du temps, Bruxelles, Recueil /Ousia, 1989, pp. 161–174
  • Celebration of a Sphere. About a Sculpture by Arnoldo Pomodoro, Au-delà du paysage moderne, Augustin Berque editor, Paris, Le Débat/Gallimard n°65, 1991, pp. 88–93
  • The Idea of Town as Concrete Experience of Time and Space, Temps et Espace, Bruxelles, Recueil/Ousia, 1992, pp. 109–124
  • Mimesis of Art and Nature, Sites et Paysages, Reims, Parc naturel de la Montagne de Reims, 1992, pp. 51–67
  • Elements to an Hermeneutics of Gardens and Landscape. About the Japanese Garden, with photographs by Jacques Vasseur, Donner l’habiter, Ecole d'Architecture de Clermont-Ferrand, 1992, pp. 86–1207.
  • The Kairos of Place, Chaos Harmonie Existence, Ecole d'Architecture de Clermont-Ferrand, 1993, pp. 47–66
  • Landscape and the Question of the ‘Feeling’, Géographie et cultures n°9, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1994, pp. 107–126
  • Wild Nature and Art, Catalogue de l'exposition Art grandeur nature II, Paris, Parc de la Courneuve/Conseil général de Seine St Denis, 1994, pp. 4–9
  • Games, Process of Creation and the Art of Place, Transversal Seminar De l'expérience, Paris, Papiers du Collège International de philosophie (CIPh), n°21, 1994, p. 57-77
  • Ekphrasis of Gaillon. About an Artistic Installation of Jacques Vieille : To Garden, Rouen, catalogue DRAC of exhibition, 1995, pp. 9–24
  • Landscape’s Effervescences, Dossier Pour l'amour du paysage, Paris, Esprit, July 1995, pp. 142–149
  • The Garden : the Idea of Nature between Paradise and Celestial Jerusalem, La nature, Philosophie politique n°6, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1995, pp. 125–150
  • The Great Forms. About a Jacques Vieille’s Installation, The Garden, Art and Place of Memory, Philippe Nys and Monique Mosser editor, Paris-Besançon, Editions de l’Imprimeur, 1995, pp. 509–522
  • The Garden, a Non Textual Hermeneutics of Place : the Question of Ekphrasis, Lire l’espace, sous la direction de J. Poirier et J.-J. Wunenberger, Bruxelles, Recueil/Ousia, 1996, pp. 289–312. Text translated and published in Spanish, “El Arte de Los Jardines : Una hermeutica del Lugar y la cuestion de la ekphrasis”, El jardin como arte. Arte y Naturaleza, J. Maderuelo editor, Huesca
  • About Airs, Waters, Places’. Commentary to Hippocrates Treatise, Le sens du lieu, Ph. Nys, Ch. Younès, Michel Mangematin editor Bruxelles, Recueil/Ousia, 1996, pp. 385–434
  • Phenomenology and Hermeneutics in Architecture. Commentary on ‘Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science of Alberto Perez-Gomez, Le sens du lieu, Ph. Nys, Ch. Younès, Michel Mangematin editor Bruxelles, Recueil/Ousia, 1996, pp. 163–174
  • Relationship between Art and Architecture. Toward an Expanded Field of Architecture, with Martine Bouchier, Le philosophe chez l’architecte, Chris Younès editor Paris, Descartes & Cie, 1996, pp. 127–150
  • To a Hermeneutics of Landscape, Les enjeux du paysage, sous la direction de Michel Collot, Bruxelles, Recueil/ Ousia, 1997, pp. 342–362
  • Landscape as Hermeneutics, Université de Dijon, Interfaces 11-12, 1997, pp. 93–112
  • Monument and Creation. About Aloïs Riegl’s “Cult of Monuments”, Paris, Travées, revue des Centres culturels de rencontre, 1997, pp. 20–26
  • Landscape and Re-Presentation. The Earth as Landscape, Le paysage et ses grilles, sous la direction de Françoise Chenet, Paris, Esthétique/L’Harmattan, 1997, pp. 131–141
  • Introduction” and “ A Place on Limits of Creation : the Garden Logic of Place and Human Work, Editors : Augustin Berque and Philippe Nys Bruxelles, Ousia, Recueil, 1996, pp. 5–8 and pp. 133–162
  • The Garden of Models. Project for the festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire, with Martine Bouchier, Paris, Les Carnets du paysage, n°2, Arles/Paris, Actes Sud/Ensp, 1998, pp. 114–123
  • To Reconcile Europe. About the Two Riverbanks Garden Kehl-Strasbourg, Leçons de jardins à travers l’Europe, First Publication of European Cultural Itinerary, Strasbourg, Editions Alternative, 1998, pp. 135–141.
  • Garden as Symbolic Institution, Felipe II En Rey Intimo. Jardin y Naturaleza en el siglo XVI, Aranjuez, 1998, pp. 289–306 [in French]
  • The Ethical and Aesthetic Status of the Garden in the City, Lausanne, une envie de ville heureuse, sous la direction de Lorette Coen, Lausanne, Editions du Péribole/Ensp, 1998, pp. 118–123 developed version in Ville contre-nature. Philosophie et architecture, sous la direction de Chris Younès, Paris, La Découverte, 1999, pp. 195–213
  • Art and Nature : a Genealogical Perspective, Paris, Autrement, March 1999, pp. 241–263. Text translated and published in German, with “Innere Garten”, photographs by Eva Maria Schön, Bâle, Kunstforum, Mei 1999, pp. 71–85
  • Metamorphosis of Historic Monuments and the Framework for their Re-Using : Theories and Representations in Europe, Paris, European Network of Cultural Centers-Historical Monuments, 1999, pp. 6–41
  • Fatal Attraction ? The Passion of Heritage, Les Carnets du paysage, n°4, Autumn/ Winter 1999, dossier « Désir de patrimoines », pp. 66–79
  • Notes on Frederic Law Olmsted and Photography, Les Carnets du Paysage, n°4, Ensp/Paris and Actes/Sud, Arles, 1999
  • Interview” by Nakazawa Shin’ichi, “The Earth as Landscape, “Introduction” by Shiina Ryosuke, [in English and Japanese] Coucou no tchi, n°2, Spring 2000, pp. 96–129
  • From Thought to the Wild State, Art et jardins, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2000, pp. 143–177
  • Blue Light. Be Careful : Gardens !. Project for the Lausanne Festival of Contemporary Art of Garden, winner, April–October 2000, Lausanne, 2000
  • Terraces, a Thousand Levels of Landscape, Compar(a)ison. An International Journal of Comparative Literature, Paysages (III), Berne, Peter Lang editor, 2000, pp. 5–33
  • The Blind Spot of the Overcoming of Modernity, Logic of the Place and the Overcoming of Modernity, volume II, Augustin Berque editor, Bruxelles, Ousia, Recueil, 2000, p. 119-138
  • The Villa d’Este at Tivoli. A Story Board, Architecture & Landscape, Jan Birksted ed., Routlege, septembre 2001, 25p.
  • Garden as a Symbolic Institution, Histoires de Jardins - Rencontres de La Garenne Lemot, J. Pigeaud et J.-P Barbe directeurs, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 2001, pp. 1–24
  • Landscape and Heritage - Challenges of an Environmental Symbol [only in English] Forward Planning  : The Function of Cultural Heritage in a Changing Europe Strasbourg, Council of Europe, pp. 65–8140. * The Garden, State of Place, Le paysage, état des lieux, Recueil/Ousia, octobre 2001, pp. 395–418
  • Modelages, Canadian Aesthetics Journal / Revue canadienne d'esthétique (Æ),volume 6, automne 2001, textes rassemblés par Manon Regimbald,, 20p. [only in French]
  • The Japanese Garden in Europe : a Perspective, Japan Foundation, Tokyo octobre 2001, 12p. [in Japanese]. Developed version in Concepts5, Editions Sils Maria, 2002
  • Landscape as Spiritual Exercise. About Hadrian’s Villa, Actes du colloque sur la Villa d’Hadrien, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Henri Lavagne and Monique Mosser editor, 2002, pp. 165–181
  • The Allegory of the Cave : Stakes of a Dispositif of Light, in Lumières, Martine Bouchier editor, Editions Ousia, collection Arts des lieux, 2002, pp. 51–64
  • The Milieu in Question within the Horizon of Hermeneutics, issue of the Meiji University, Tokyo, 2003, 20p., [in Japanese]
  • Quale ermeneutica per il paesaggio?, Leo Olscki editore, Florence, 2003, 15p. [in Italian]
  • Promenade and Amenity, NTS inc., Tokyo, 10p. [only in Japanese]
  • The Expanded Field of the Picturesque, Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, mars 2006, 8p. [in French and English]
  • Untimely Considerations to serve as an Introduction to the Picturesque, in How to re-use the Architectural Heritage, Les Dossiers de l'IPW, Liège, Belgium, 2006
  • Trades and Professions of the Landscape, in Landscape's Conversations 2004, Les Presses agronomiques de Gembloux, Belgium, 2006
  • Les métiers du paysage, in Conversations paysagères 2004, Les Presses agronomiques de Gembloux, 2006
  • Icone's Way, in Transitional Zones, Martine Bouchier and Philippe Nys editors, ArchiBooks, Paris
  • Body, Crowd, Space or the Collaboration of the In-between, in The Japanese Garden. Nature, Artificial, Place in Another World, Benetton Foundation, Treviso, février 2007 (to be published in Italian)
  • et dans Le pittoresque à l’ère de sa reproductibilité technique dans Paesaggi culturali, Rappresentazioni, Esperienze, Prospettiva, a cura Rossella Salerno et C. Casonato, Gangemi Editore, Roma, 2008.
  • Introduction aux approches multidisciplinaires des paysages, dans De l’enseignement du paysage en architecture, sous la direction de Arnauld Laffage & Yann Nussaume, Editions de La Villette, 2009
  • Emscherpark, matrice d’un néo-pittoresque contemporain, 2008


  1. ^ Philippe Nys, Georges Bataille’s Novels, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, 1970.
  2. ^ A B.A. in Philosophy is equivalent to third level thesis in France.
  3. ^ Philippe Nys, Remarks on ‘What is Metaphysics ?’ of Martin Heidegger, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, 1973.
  4. ^ Philippe Nys, Elements for Hermeneutics and Phenomenology of Dwelling Places : Garden – Architecture – Landscape, Appendix Thesis Title: “The Question of Playing according to Hans Georg Gadamer”, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, 1995.
  5. ^ 1998 - Qualification from the National Council of French Universities, section 18, Aesthetics (CNU/Conseil national des Universités); 2002 - Qualification from the National Council of French Universities, section 18, Aesthetics (Conseil national des Universités).

Mitate symposium :