Emily Brady, Chapt 4: Contemporary Theories of Aes App of Nature from Aes of Nat Env.
- COGNITIVE VS NON-COGNITIVE THEORIES
- Debate is about the role of kn in aes app of nature
- Like debate in phil of art: Is art historical and other kn necessary (or
important) for judgements about art?
- Allen Carlson (Natural Env. Model), Holmes Rolston, Marcia Eaton
- Stresses knowledge and correct/incorrect appreciation
- Kn is essential (or important?) for appro, correct, deep, serious app
- Carlson example: Is it a cute woodchuck or a massive rat? The aes
response depends on the factual matter.
- W/o sufficient kn, mistakes are liable
- What kind of knowledge?
- Cognitivists above stress scientific: Such as ecological, geological
- "and it's common sense predecessors and analogs"
- It's hard to avoid common sense knowledge being a part of aes
app, so all views involve this?
- As defined cog views might admit other sources of knowledge than sci
- Mythology, religion, emotion
- Rolston, for example, requires participatory experience/kn
- Cog tend to focus on objective side of aes ex; "object oriented" approach
(as opposed to subject oriented approach)
- Valuing nature "on its own terms"
- More essentialist (aes app of nature requires something specific), monist
(only one correct way to appreciate)
- NON-COGNITIVISTS (more diverse group)
- Who: Arnold Berleant's aes of engagement, Noel Carroll's arousal theory,
Ronald Hepburn's multi-dimensional aes, Stan Godlovitch's natural or
green aesthetics, Cheryl Foster's ambient approach and Emily Brady's
- Emphasizes: Sensuous surface, imagination, and emotion, rather than kn
- More focus on subjective side of aes exp; on personal exp of appreciator
- Generally more pluralistic: a number of frameworks for appro aes app, and
there is no correct one
- Allows that various models are acceptable ways to app nature
(Carroll), not Godlovitch
- None has an "epistemological" (knowledge) condition for appropriate aes
- Which does not mean they don't draw distinction between appro and
inappro aes exp. of nature
- All? do (except Berleant?)
- Find alternative to knowledge for this distinction
- Hepburn has dist trivial and serious
- Or overly humanizing and overly distancing ways of app nature
- Post-modern view-anything goes-falls on non-cog side
- Anything can count as an appropriate frame for aes app, none is
- No one holds this position
- Thomas Heyd in "Aesthetic Appreciation and the Many Stories
of Nature"? And Berleant come the closest
- All of non cog mentioned hold that aes exp of nature needs to be
- None allows use of nature for "mere flights of fancy and mere
- Examples of disrespectful and mere flights of fancy
- Outlines of clouds as resemble a basket of washed clothes:
Trivial, shallow appraisal of a freakish element;
- That stalagmite looks Snow White and
the Seven Dwarves
- CARLSON'S NATURAL ENVIRONMENTAL MODEL (NEM)
- How to guide aes app of nature in absence of frame used to guide aes
app of art
- Shows how aes app of nature not arbitrary or subjective and
justified by kn
- What are appro categories for nature app?
- Answer: Science, natural history
- DISCUSSION OF WALTON'S FAMOUS ARTICLE "CATEGORIES OF
- In art, appro app involves determining the appropriate art historical category
- E.g. cubist versus impressionist painting, tango versus waltz
- App must be guided by kn that allows us to perceive art object in correct
- Correct cat for given work depends on 1-having large numbers of properties
standard to that cat, 2-more aes pleasing when perceive in that cat, 3-
intended by artist to be in that cat, 4-socially recognized cat
- Walton rejects formalism
- Formalism: Perception of form, design, and color is all that is needed for
- It excludes content, representation and any external information
- Makes kn irrelevant to aes app
- Walton says unlike art, there is no correct app of nature (because there are
not correct categories for nature app); nature app is relative to what we
perceive and unlike art there are not correct and incorrect ways to
- But because 1, 2, and 4 above apply, why can't natural objects have correct
and incorrect categories applied to them?
- CARLSON USES WALTON'S SCHEMA AND REPLACES ART
HISTORICAL CATS WITH KN OF NATURAL SCI AND "COMMONSENSE PREDECESSORS AND ANALOGUES".
- Science allows us to know nature as nature and place natural aes
objects in their correct categories
- For nature, some cats are correct and others not (as with art)
- Appro and significant aes app of natural objects and envs requires
knowing what they are and something about them, thus it requires kn
of natural sciences
- Science not only deepens app, but w/o it we are not likely to make aes
judgements that are true
- Can overlook, misapprehend aes qualities in nature if miss the science
- Example: Starry Night as post impressionist or expressionist painting
- If see it in incorrect category (as expressionism), will appear subdued
- Example: Whale: Rorqual whale is graceful and majestic mammal; but
perceived as a fish would appear more lumbering, somewhat oafish, even bit
- Would be wrong to judge the whale as clumsy if judged in incorrect
- Like wrong if judged one of Picasso's works (Guernica) to be a poor
attempt at impressionism
- Carlson's an objectivist model with strong objectivity
- "Object oriented/focused approach; in contrast to a subject oriented
- Individual objects qualities should dt what knowledge or other info is
- Dif objects make dif demands
- Objective app is app object for what it is and properties it has
- App subjectively involves subject/appreciator and its properties
being imposed on object; or something other than object
imposed on it
- This ignores idea that subjectivity is aimed at exploring the
subject's reaction, not taking that reaction and pretending its
part of the object
- Relevant info must be factual/objective, for Carlson
- Nature is not designed, so we app it by appreciating its order
- We select aspects of nature and focuses on the order found there
- Focusing and selecting guided by non aes/ non artistic story of
- Sci kn is nec for appro app
- App w/o such kn occurs all time in practice, and Carlson has to say it
is superficial, badly informed or incorrect, not important aes app, or at
least not as serious and deep app
- NEM applies best to wild nature and cultural, non-sci knowledge is appro
when enter realm of cultural landscapes
- When discussing urban/ag landscapes kn of function replaces science
- Does allow alternative stories to science when info is suff culturally
embedded to count as objective.
- BRADY'S CRITICISMS OF/OBJECTIONS TO COG
- One: Carlson's argument by analogy for scientific app of nature is weak
and ignores aesthetic sources of nature appreciation
- True art history categories not appropriate, but why choose science as
the alternative background kn needed?
- Why is sci the correct category type? Why better than other sources
for aes appreciation
- Carlson's reply: because app should be directed at features of object
itself and science is what tells us about natural objects
- Carlson assumes science objective and less subject to personal views
and more likely to value nature on own terms, rather than impose
cultural/personal frameworks onto it
- Are there other sources of knowledge of nature?
- Philosophy? Religion? History?
- Brady's aes alternative to Carlson's science frame:
- Given context is aesthetic, why run to exp/kn of scientists
rather than aes exp of poets, painters, photographers, env.
artists, and others like indigenous people living on the land, or
visitors to local natural areas?
- Why is scientists' knowledge more appropriate for aes app than
Wordsworth's intimate experience of Lake District or dog
walker's daily exp of a forest?
- They have greater aes sensitivity to particular envs than do
naturalists or ecologists (but do they?)
- She may get the particular part, but not the sensitivity
- Naturalists are different from scientists and have a more
- Why is sci kn more appro for aes app than intimate experience with
the land? (Even when it is based on ignorance?)
- Two: Various problems with the nature of the type of kn (sci) supposed to
- Two A: Cog falsely assume that the aim of aes app of nature is a
conceptual understanding of nature, when it is really a non-intellectual
- While it is true that scientists can app aes qualities of nature with "their knowledge in tow"
- But they must be careful this kn does not detract: "Too much
knowledge brought into app can impede attention to aes qual
and detract from them"
- And while background beliefs can be fed into appreciation
- Aes exp is predominantly non-intellectual engagement with the
- Hepburn: "Aes mode of experience seeks to explore/intensify
the subjective, human perceptual, evaluative, and emotional
- It is about the life world and not the objective world of
- Why not be pluralist here and say it involves both?
- What is the aim of appreciation?
- Cog think it is correct app (according to science)
- Tidal basin example
- Need to know that tidal basin is sometimes beach, sometimes
sea-bed and app it as both
- But could believe aim is to enhance app
- On this account partial app of tidal basin (only as a beach or as
a sea-bed) would not be diminished app.
- Two B: Carlson is unclear whether the knowledge required is detailed
scientific knowledge or more general common sense kn and he vacillates
between these depending on his purposes
- But Brady thinks it clear that science is not essential for may aes exp of
- Wave example: "One can app the perfect curve of a wave combined with
rushing white foam of wave crashing onto sand w/o knowing how waves are
caused. Judging wave as spectacular and exhilaration can depend solely on
app of perceptual qualitites and associated feelings. Not an ill-founded or
- Would it be richer if added some scientific knoweldge?
- Brady is not a formalist (not saying kn irrelevant to aes app) but a pluralist
(there are many frameworks that can be appro used to app nature)
- Does Brady allow the cognitivist/scientific form of nature app?
- Two C: While Carlson's appeals to science seems to give him objectivity,
this reduces aes considerations to ecological/scientific ones and thus aes
is no longer a distinctive voice in the conservation debate.
- Further, Carlson's appeal to science is elitist as it rules out non-expert opinion;
only aes judgments of those with sci knowledge count as appropriate.
- Three: Essentialism objection to Cognitivism
- Essentialism in aes app of nature = there is one necessary and
sufficient way to go about app nature
- Cog, especially NEM, is too restrictive of the range of aes app that
- We should not assume that only one single kn frame is correct
- Brady's pluralism of acceptable frames is a middle ground
between a single correct frame and anything goes
- Not assume that science is the only appro basis for nature app
- There are serious app of nature that are not based on science
- E.g., ignores poss of Carroll's emotionally moved by nature
(e.g., standing under a thundering waterfall and being moved
- The cognitivists' argument against non-science frames are mistaken
- Cogs argue that science reveals nature's real properties, while other "narratives" may falsify it
- Science is a narrative?! A story about nature on the par with
fair tales, myths, and fiction?
- But non-sci accounts need not lead to partial or misleading app
- As would app nature as if it was a work of art
- Also, why think that non-science frames "imposes human values on
nature" whereas science does not?
- Sci is also cultural human frame, why assume that it reveals nature's
properties as they are where as other cultural frames do not?
- "We ought not to pretend that science will achieve a
perspective-less aes valuing" 116
- Well, the goal of science is to describe nature objectively
- Tthe frames of poetry, or fiction, or imagination do not aim at
- Is the debate here between a scientific realism and an anti-realism or relativism about nature of the natural world?
- SUMMARY OF NON-COGNITIVE THEORIES
- Kant's traditional disinterested theory is noncognitive
- But so is Berleant's phen personally engaged theory
- So degree of DI says nothing about cognitive/non-cognitive
- Yuriko Saito pluralistic approach
- In between cog and noncog
- Aes exp begins and ends with sensuous surface
- Plurality of appreciative frameworks that include science
- Supports role of science, but challenges its centrality,
- Concerned that aes encounters grounded in moral attitude towards
- App of nature must be on nature's own terms rather than human terms
(avoid an overly humanizing approach to nature app)
- Nature tells its story through sensuous qualities and also science,
myth, folklore and indigenous tales
- Saito on science
- Not desirable because it gives true/correct app
- Science informs app that may be more respectful of nature
- It prevents overly humanizing app, but not only route to treating
nature in own terms
- Science not free from cultural influences: It makes our observations
of nature intelligible to us, but its stories are stories of natural objects
- Only sci cats relevant are those based on observation and perception
of 2nd qual
- Sci can enhance app but also distract us from aes qualities
- "Molecular structure of rock or medicinal value of a spring too
removed from immediate perceptual arena to be realizable on
sensuous surface and so not aes relevant."
- HEPBURN'S MULTI-DIMENSIONAL AES
- A non-cog theory that urges a multi-dimensional aes encounter with envs
- Involves perception, emotion, imagination and thought
- Expressive qualities in nature are grasped via perceptual and
- He foregrounds immediate perceptual exp and backgrounds kn
- Avoids too intellectual/factual aes exp
- Sci kn no fundamental role, but can be part of bel fed into app
- Role of thoughts/belief
- "Though-content" in aes response, for we think in bel about object in
relation to perceived qual
- Thoughts not nec conscious or verbal, but interact intimately with
feeling and perception
- Are not required to think in perception transcending ideas or
- Discovery or aes understanding via perceptual and imaginative activity
toward aes obj
- E.g., "Realize" the height of cumulo-nimbus cloud, not simply
taking note of the height, but imagining myself climbing into the
cloud in an airplane or I superimpose an image of a mountain known
for vastness onto it
- Not an objective approach whereby we come armed with facts that we
use as categories through which we perceive nature
- Both imagination and knowledge playing a role here.
- Wants to avoid overly strong subjectivity; fantasy, pleasure-seeking,
and trivializing responses not appro
- Avoid subjectivity by keeping our imaginings relevant to the
perceptual qualities of the object
- This doesn't handle his wash basket cloud example where he
says that aes app a cloud as looking like a wash basket is a
trivial type of aes response.
- Outlines of clouds as resemble a basket of washing
- Trivial, shallow appraisal of a freakish element
- Focus on inner turbulence and 250 mile wind speeds in
cloud that determine its structure
- Less superficial experience, more worth having
- Rock made by great pressure (or looks like a funny face)
- Accepts a scale of serious vs trivial types of aes response
- Avoid aes response that "distorts, ignores, suppresses truth about
objects, feels and thinks about them in ways that falsify how nature
- Mean between overly humanizing nature and overly distancing ourselves
- So some humanizing of nature is okay?
- Wants an aes response consistent with respect for nature, but not
ground aes in ethical
- Recognition of nature's otherness bound up with respect for nature
- Use meta imag to engage with nature as other and this exp brings
forward ideas concerning our relation to nature and cosmos
- BERLEANT AES OF ENGAGEMENT
- A phenomenological, personally total mental, sensory, and bodily
engagement theory of aes app
- Critical of subject/object split in aes app (viz., envs are app as objects from
a disembodied, contemplative appreciator) and goes for immersion of
humans in the environment
- Aes app demands participation, activity, involvement, not
- Critique of disinterestedness: rejects detachment, distancing and passivity
- "We perceive envs from within, not looking at it but in it; nature as a realm
in which we live as participants, not observers; not disinterested
contemplation but total engagement, sensory immersion in nature"
- Subjectivist/cultural infused app: Individual appreciator's emotions, values,
beliefs, memories are as important as aes env.
- Subjectivity is strong here: endorses personal exp/meaning in relation
- Includes science as one poss cultural frame brought into env. exp
- Applies to broadest range of envs: artworks, built envs, wild nature
- No special frame for nature as opposed to art; engagement for all
- Brady worries about his being an overly human-oriented view of nature
and is pan-culturalism
- CARROLL'S AROUSAL MODEL
- Feeling and emotion are important and common in aes response to nature,
including Kant's simple pleasurable feeling of delight/enjoyment and
Carroll's being moved emotionally as we stand under a waterfall.
- Objective emotions: In response to worry feelings/emotions are arbitrary,
subjective, no communicable develops notion of objective emotions
- Emotions not subjective projections onto the landscape, not one-sided, but due in part to something about the object perceived
- Has a cognitive theory of emotion (though Brady classifies him as non-cog)
that allows for objectivity
- Emotion can be a part of appro (or inappropriate) response to nature
depending on whether the beliefs behind the emotion are reasonable
for others to have.
- E.g., fear of an oncoming tank vs fear of chicken soup.
- Non-aes features of nature (large scale, sheer size of waterfall) serve to
justify particular emotional responses to nature
- E.g., being moved by size of Niagra falls versus being bored or
thinking it puny
- Godlovitch's Natural (green ) Aesthetics
- Integrate env aes into env. phil
- Anti-cultural and strongly natural
- Rejects humanizing subjectivity and is still non-cog
- Concept of nature as other in aes perception should replace
humanistic or romantic conceptions of it
- Even science only gives us "our own articulated images."
- Recognizing nature's ineffability should guide our aes response to
nature and any other frame (science, emotion, sensuous engagement)
is inappro (unethical attitude and involves human appropriation)
- Only aloofness and sense of mystery secures requirement of nature's
- Is this an aesthetic response?
- Can we truly care for nature if we can not get closer to it?
- STRENGTH'S AND WEAKNESSES OF NON-COG
- Some non-cog positions humanize nature unacceptably and fail to take
nature on own terms (but others do not)
- Project onto nature lots of properties it doesn't have
- The problem of too much subjectivity
- WHAT IS INVOLVED IN TAKING NATURE ON ITS OWN TERMS?
- Saito: achieved by taking a moral attitude towards nature and building aes
- Brady thinks this approach is likely to over moralize and nature has
its own disturbing events
- Godlovitch thinks it means not knowing nature at all (as nature is mystery)
- Rol, Eaton, Carson assume it means grasping nature through its true
qualities and these are known by science
- Any other framework (including minimal commonsense knowledge)
amount to not taking nature on own terms
- Brady wonders if we can ever know what terms nature would have us
appreciate it on
- Brady thinks cog not provided enough support for their claims
science is the only thing that does this
- "We ought not to pretend that science will achieve a
perspective-less aes valuing" 116
- Why use the peculiar language of taking nature on own terms?
- Why not use Carlson's language of aes app nature for what it is (and
not what it is not). And Science tells us what nature is like
- Brady says science not the answer as over-reliance on it dissolves or
overwhelms the perceptual aspect of app
- But this would not show that a proper reliance on it doesn't get
nature in its own terms.
- Brady's pluralism: advocates a pluralist interpretation that balances
perception, imagination, emotion, and thought-content in aes app, without
- ETHICS AND THE COGNITIVE VERSUS NON-COGNITIVE
- Are the ethical implications of subjectivism dangerous?
- If beauty is in eye of beholder, any personal opinion about nature's
aes value is as good as any other
- And this won't allow aesthetics to play a role in env. policy
- Brady sees need make aes judge of nature play role in env.
decision and so can't be reduced to arbitrariness of extreme
- But science isn't only way to avoid this extreme subjectivity
- A COG'S ETHICAL OBJECTION: Without appropriate knowledge we
are liable to be mistaken in our aes judgments and fail to app harm to the
- Leopold: Damage to landscape invisible to untutored eye
- E.g., find Kudzu covered forest richly beautiful
- Find pollution sunset beautiful
- Eaton example of green lawns are not beautiful
- "Increasingly, ecologists internationally recognize that in the absence of a change in aesthetic preferences, sound environmental practices have little chance of being widely adopted. (For instance, as long as people want large, green, closely mowed yards no matter what the climate or soil or water conditions, they will continue to use polluting gasoline mowers and a toxic cocktail of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.)" from https://www.aesthetics-online.org/ideas/eaton.html
- Aes app uniformed by ecology may be bad for env.
- Ned's objection that false ecological beliefs (belief in delicate balance of
nature) can be good for env.
- Brady's charred landscape ex (114)
- Come upon a burned-out section of moorland
- Judge it ugly w/o knowing whether caused by controlled burn, natural
fire, accident, or vandalism
- Not clear that responding to it as ugly is appro;
- Might be based on a shallow, picturesque or formalist sense of
- Burned landscapes are quite amazing, spectacular
- Upon discovering cause vandalism, you still find it ugly
- Dismayed to learn someone harmed land deliberately
- But whether fire due to natural or human causes, still find black earth
- New kn does not change your judgment
- Would it be a mistake if it did? Is it a mistake if it does not?
- Few days later come back and see young, green shoots coming up
through black earth
- Now find it poignant, expressive of renewal
- Aes judge changes due to observable changes in non-aes
- Is her idea that aes judge may not permissibly change unless observable qualities change? Why can't change in background kn cause change in aes response?
- For Brady, ethical concerns do not (or do not legitimately?) affect
aes evaluations? (She does not come right out and say this here)
- Is this a narrow formalism? (No)
- No, because unlike formalists, she allows that emotion and
imagination can be relevant
- But why isn't ethical emotion relevant?
- Get angry that a vandal burned this beautiful forest
- Why can't that affect your aes judge?
- And if it can, then why can't the ethical knowledge of the
vandal's acts, independent of the emotion, permissibly affect
the aes response?
- Brady's take home messages from charred landscape ex:
- BRADY WANTS TO PRESERVE AUTONOMY OF AESTHETIC
- Preserve distinctiveness of aes value so this special part of human exp
can be recognized
- With a view to allowing it a place in env. debate
- Aes not in business of uncovering actual damage
- This is the job of ecologists under via science
- STRENGTHS OF NON-COG
- Pluralist: Open up aes app to include various aspects of aesthetic
response (perception, imagination, emotion, here she does not
- More flexible and better able to respond to dif envs
- Note: A science based app can respond to any env.
- Encourage subject elements in aes response, including situation of
- Important for practical contexts where attention to detail and
localized kn is important for good judgment
- How is this subjective?
- Here she says need detailed knowledge for appro aes judge!
- Non-experts and insights of locas get included if shareable/intersubjectively reasonable
- Gives a place to aes exp of local residents and their sense of
place (alongside ecologists and developers voices)
- Some of these exp will be shareable (others not), and those that
are found reasonable though inter-subjective exchange, are
valuable in deliberative process
- So the aes exp of locals must pass test of being shareable, and
- This may constrain them somewhat but not nearly as stringent
a test of objectivity as check of getting science right would
- Awareness that aes valuing nature means bringing ourselves to
natural world as cultural beings
- Can't avoid this, even science does this (science based aes app
not perspective-less valuing)
- Brady wants to embrace the richness of human life in engagement
with nature and also heed nature's otherness