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TitleAesthetics and the Environment: The Appreciation of Nature, Art and Architecture
PublisherRoutledge
ISBN 139780415206839
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size4.7 MB
Total Pages268
Table of Contents
                            BOOK COVER
HALF-TITLE
TITLE
COPYRIGHT
DEDICATION
CONTENTS
ILLUSTRATIONS
PREFACE
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INTRODUCTION
1 THE AESTHETICS OF NATURE
	A brief historical overview
	A brief overview of contemporary positions
	The natural environmental model: some further ramifications
	Notes
2 UNDERSTANDING AND AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE
	Aesthetic experience on the Mississippi
	Formalism and aesthetic experience
	Disinterestedness and aesthetic experience
	Conclusion
	Notes
3 FORMAL QUALITIES IN THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
	Formal qualities and formalism
	Formal qualities in current work in environmental aesthetics
	Background on the significance assigned to formal qualities
	Formal qualities in the natural environment
	Conclusion
	Notes
4 APPRECIATION AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
	The appreciation of art
	Some artistic models for the appreciation of nature
	An environmental model for the appreciation of nature
	Conclusion
	Notes
5 NATURE, AESTHETIC JUDGMENT, AND OBJECTIVITY
	Nature and objectivity
	Walton’s position
	Nature and culture
	Nature and Walton’s psychological claim
	The correct categories of nature
	Conclusion
	Notes
6 NATURE AND POSITIVE AESTHETICS
	The development of positive aesthetics
	Nature appreciation as non-aesthetic
	Positive aesthetics and sublimity
	Positive aesthetics and theism
	Science and aesthetic appreciation of nature
	Science and appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature
	Science and positive aesthetics
	Notes
7 APPRECIATING ART AND APPRECIATING NATURE
	The concept of appreciation
	Appreciating art: design appreciation
	Appreciating art: order appreciation
	Appreciating nature: design appreciation
	Appreciating nature: order appreciation
	Conclusion
	Notes
8 BETWEEN NATURE AND ART
	The question of aesthetic relevance
	Objects of appreciation and aesthetic necessity
	Between nature and art: appreciating other things
	Notes
9 ENVIRONMENTAL AESTHETICS AND THE DILEMMA OF AESTHETIC EDUCATION
	The eyesore argument
	The dilemma of aesthetic education
	The natural
	The aesthetically pleasing
	Life values and the eyesore argument
	Conclusion
	Notes
10 IS ENVIRONMENTAL ART AN AESTHETIC AFFRONT TO NATURE?
	Environmental works of art
	Environmental art as an aesthetic affront
	Some replies to the affront charge
	Some concluding examples
	Notes
11 THE AESTHETIC APPRECIATION OF JAPANESE GARDENS
	The dialectical nature of Japanese gardens
	The appreciative paradox of Japanese gardens
	Conclusion
	Notes
12 APPRECIATING AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES
	Traditional agricultural landscapes
	The new agricultural landscapes
	Difficult aesthetic appreciation and novelty
	Appreciating the new agricultural landscapes
	Conclusion
	Notes
13 EXISTENCE, LOCATION, AND FUNCTION: THE APPRECIATION OF ARCHITECTURE
	Architecture and art
	To be or not to be: Hamlet and Tolstoy
	Here I stand: to fit or not to fit
	Form follows function and fit follows function
	Function, location, existence: the path of appreciation
	Notes
14 LANDSCAPE AND LITERATURE
	Hillerman’s landscapes and aesthetic relevance
	Classic formalism and postmodern landscape appreciation
	Formal descriptions and ordinary descriptions
	Other factual landscape descriptions
	The analogy with art argument
	Nominal descriptions
	Imaginative descriptions and cultural embeddedness
	Mythological landscape descriptions
	Literary landscape descriptions
	The analogy with art argument again
	Conclusion
	Notes
INDEX
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

AESTHETICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Aesthetics and the Environment: The Appreciation of Nature, Art and Architecture
presents fresh and fascinating insights into our interpretation of the environment.
Although traditional aesthetics is often associated with the appreciation of art, Allen
Carlson shows how much of our aesthetic experience does not encompass art but
nature, in our responses to sunsets, mountains, or more mundane surroundings,
such as gardens or the views from our windows. He demonstrates that, unlike works
of art, natural and ordinary human environments are neither self-contained
aesthetic objects nor specifically designed for convenient aesthetic consumption. On
the contrary, our environments are ever present constantly engaging our senses, and
Carlson offers a thought-provoking and lucid investigation of what this means for
our appreciation of the world around us. He argues that knowledge of what it is we
are appreciating is essential to having an appropriate aesthetic experience and that
scientific understanding of nature can enhance our appreciation of it, rather than
denigrate it.

Aesthetics and the Environment also shows how ethical and aesthetic values are
closely connected, argues that aesthetic appreciation of natural and human
environments has objective grounding, and explores the important links between
ecology and the aesthetic experience of nature. This book will be essential reading
for those involved in environmental studies and aesthetics and all who are interested
in the controversial relationship between science and nature.

Allen Carlson is an authority in aesthetics and has pioneered the field of
environmental aesthetics. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta,
Canada.

Page 134

This problem about nature appreciation is perplexing enough that it leads to
radical solutions. One such solution is the nonaesthetic view of nature appreciation,
introduced in Chapter 1. A version of this view is what Don Mannison calls the
“Human Chauvinistic Aesthetic.” Mannison contends that “Nature cannot be the
object of aesthetic appreciation” by arguing that “only human artifacts can be
objects of aesthetic judgement,” for “‘artistry’ is an essential component of an
aesthetic judgement”—“The conceptual structure of an aesthetic judgement.. .includes
a reference to a creator; i.e. an artist.”52 As noted in Chapter 6, a similar conclusion
is drawn by Robert Elliot, who argues that “an apparently integral part of aesthetic
evaluation depends on viewing the aesthetic object as an intentional object, as an
artifact, as something that is shaped by the purposes and designs of its author” and
that this is not possible with nature for “Nature is not a work of art.”53 As Elliot
brings out, a concern of the Human Chauvinistic Aesthetic is that nature does not
seem open to evaluative aesthetic judgments such as whether it is good or bad, a
success or failure. This concern is legitimate, but drawing from it the conclusion that
nature cannot be an object of aesthetic appreciation is without doubt an
overreaction, not unlike Dickie’s abandoning of the concept of the aesthetic. But
even were it not, the conclusion would still be unacceptable. It offends against the
truism noted in the first section of this chapter as well as in previous chapters: that
aesthetic appreciation is applicable to any object of awareness whatever. Moreover,
as argued in Chapter 6, it is not established by the arguments offered in its
defense.54

What is important here, however, is seeing how the conclusion that nature
cannot be an object of aesthetic appreciation stems in part from not recognizing the
object-orientated nature of appreciation. As noted in the first section of this chapter,
this concept, by ridding itself of anything like the general criterion of aesthetic
relevance, allows for, indeed requires, different kinds of aesthetic appreciation as a
function of the nature of the object of appreciation. Thus, all appreciation need not
and should not be assimilated to the model of paradigmatic, design-centered art
appreciation. In short, the position that nature appreciation cannot be aesthetic
stems from a failure to recognize that there are legitimate alternatives to design
appreciation. This fact is significant: if that position is a possible solution to the
problem of how to understand nature appreciation when paradigmatic art
appreciation is design focused and nature is not designed, then recognizing that
there are alternatives to design appreciation makes evident a more plausible
solution. Such a solution lies not in denying that the appreciation of nature can be
aesthetic but rather in considering the alternatives to design appreciation. Thus,
although in itself wrongheaded, the attempt to abandon the aesthetic appreciation
of nature points towards a fruitful line of thought.

That nature appreciation is to be understood in light of alternatives to design
appreciation is also suggested, ironically enough, by one aspect of the theist view.
That view assimilates nature appreciation to art appreciation only by construing
nature such that it fits the model of design appreciation. In this way the theist view
brings out the fact that with object-orientated appreciation the way we construe the

AESTHETICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT 117

Page 135

object of appreciation—the general account or the story we accept about it—
contributes to determining the nature of its appropriate appreciation. With
paradigmatic works of art this fact is obscured, for there is little dispute and
therefore there are no alternative stories about them: no one doubts that they are
creations of designers and typically there is considerable agreement about the details
of their histories. However, when there is less clarity and agreement, as with nature,
then alternative stories abound and form part of the basis for appreciation. Thus,
with nature, the story accepted about it, the ideas and beliefs we have about it, are
pivotal factors in its appreciation. In this way nature is similar to those works of art
and anti-art for which the appropriate appreciation is, as noted in the third section
of this chapter, order appreciation. Moreover, order appreciation is an alternative to
design appreciation such as is required to solve the problem of how to understand
the appreciation of nature without forcing it into the model of design appreciation.

Appreciating nature: order appreciation

The idea of order appreciation as a model for the appreciation of nature is worth
exploration. It is suggested by more than just that our appreciation of nature, like that
of the works of art and anti-art for which order appreciation is appropriate, is
shaped by the stories we tell about it. It is also suggested by other similarities and
relationships between such works of art and anti-art and the objects of nature. There
is, for instance, the fact that the works called found objects need not be limited to
urinals, bottle racks, or typewriter covers, but can be themselves natural objects, as
Haftmann points out, “a root, a mussel, a stone.”55 Likewise, consider the fact that a
work such as Dali’s surrealist experiment is not made less significant if the
“alarmwatch” goes off when the “experimenter” is, for example, in a forest rather
than in his or her bathroom. If order appreciation is the form of appreciation
relevant to such works, it is seemingly as relevant in the forest as it is in the
bathroom.

Especially revealing of the relevance of order appreciation to the appreciation of
nature are the claims of the artists who initiated these works of art and antiart. For
example, it is said such art “urges man to identify himself with nature” and is itself
comparable to the objects of nature.56 Arp, for instance, claims that: “These
paintings, sculptures, objects should remain anonymous and form a part of nature’s
great workshop as leaves do, and clouds, animals, and men. Yes, man must once
again become a part of nature.”57

Of automatic poetry, in particular, Arp says:

Automatic poetry comes straight out of the poet’s bowels or out of any other
of his organs that has accumulated reserves… He crows, swears, moans,
stammers, yodels, according to his mood… Neither the Postillon of
Longjumiau, nor the Alexandrian, nor grammar, nor aesthetics, nor Buddha,
nor the Sixth Commandment are able to constrict him. [Nor, we might add,
the general criterion of aesthetic relevance.] His poems are like nature; they

118 APPRECIATING ART AND APPRECIATING NATURE

Page 267

relativism 53, 57, 58, 59, 68
relevance, aesthetic 104, 129–35, 217–17,

226–5, 239
religion see theism
representational art 19;

see also Autumn Foliage
resistance, postmodernism of 206
roadside clutter see eyesore
Rock Monument of Buffalo (Sonfist) 160
Rolston, H. 74, 86, 87, 95, 95, 100
Romanenko, V. 84, 85, 100
Romantic Movement 4, 4, 45
Routley, V. 87
Running Fence (Christo) 149–1, 160
Ruskin, J. 68, 72–3, 85–6, 95, 116
Russow, L.–M. 74

Sagoff, M. 40
Saito, Y. 173
Sangam Ritual series (Singer) 159–60
Santayana, G. 4, 13, 37–8, 143
scenery cult 32–7, 44–6
Schelling, F.W.J. von 4
science and nature, aesthetics of 3–4, 5, 11,

29, 119, 120;
and aesthetic judgment 63;
appreciation 85–90, 91–3, 98–9;
Hillerman’s themes 222, 223–3, 235,
239;
model see model under nature;
positive 85–95, 98–101;
see also knowledge

scope xi–xii, 103
sculpture 108–9;

non-representational 41–3;
object model 5, 12, 41–5

Seagram Building (Mies van der Rohe &
Johnson) 201, 203, 206

selected objects see object, natural
sensory/sensuous quality 28, 47–49;

model see engagement
Sepanmaa, Y. 13–14, 97
Serra, R. 204, 205, 206, 207, 209
Shafer, E.L. 30, 33
Shaftsbury, Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of 24–

5
She-Goat (Picasso) 238, 241

Shepard, P. 45
Ship Rock 219, 222, 229–8, 233–2,

illustrated 234, 235–1, 239
significance 18;

of formal qualities 30–8
Simonsen, K. 74, 79, 80, 81–2
Singer, M. 149, 159–60, 169
size of environments xi, 178, 180, 184, 197–

6
Smith, R.A. and C.M. 39–40, 51
Smithson, R. 149, 152, 153, 155–9, 165,

168, 204
Sonfist, A. 160–1, 169
Sontag, S. 139, 140, 144, 145
Sparshott, F. 42, 46–8, 52
Spies, W. 241
Spiral Jetty (Smithson) 149, 156, 204
Spray of Ithaca Falls… (Haack) 160
standard perceptual properties 56, 61–2
Starry Night (Van Gogh) 88–9, 91, 101
Steam Piece (Morris) 160
Steinbeck, J. 236
Stern, R.A.M.:

tower 206–5
Stewart, G. 241
Stokes, A. 37
Stolnitz, J. 24, 97, 101–5, 106, 123, 135,

148, 240
subjectivity 4, 53, 58;

subjectivist (skeptical) view xi;
see also relativism

sublimity 4, 78–81, 98
Sullivan, L.H. 193, 208–7, 212
surrealism 112, 114, 118
Surrounded Islands (Christo) 151, 155
sympathy 104, 105

Taliesin West (Wright) 201, 203, 205, 206
theism/religion 3;

and appreciation of nature 115–16, 117,
119, 122;
and positive aesthetics 81–4, 94, 98;
and ugly nature 3, 83–4, 95;
see also mystery model

“thin” and “thick” sense of aesthetic 142–6
Thomson, Tom see Autumn Foliage
Thoreau, H.D. 4, 11

250 INDEX

Page 268

Thorn Puller (bronze) 108–9
Tilted Arc (Serra) 204, 205, 206, 207, 209
Time Landscape (Sonfist) 160–1,

illustrated 161
Tolstoy, L. 201–202, 209, 212
topiary 166, 171
towns, rural 182–2
traditional agricultural landscapes 175–7,

179
true judgments 53, 58, 59;

see also objectivity
Tuan, Y.-F. 47–9, 49–1, 189
Twain, Mark:

on Mississippi 15–18, 19, 20, 22–7
passim

two-dimensional views 5, 10, 12, 32–7, 41,
44–7

Tzara, T. 111

ugliness of nature:
environmental art as improvement 157–
8;
humans causing 4–4, 72–4, 83, 175;
religious view of 3, 83–4, 95;
see also eyesore

understanding see aesthetic experience
Union Carbide Building 203, 206
United States see North America
utilitariansim and disinterestedness 24

“vacant and unemployed” state of mind,
disinterestedness as 24–5

Valley Curtain (Christo) 155–6
value(s):

aesthetic 28–9, 46–8;
life 143–6, 148, 149;
“wild” 86

Van Gogh, V. 88–9, 91, 101
variable perceptual properties 56, 61–2
Venturi, R. 207
Vietnam Veterans Memorial 209–8
“viewpoints, scenic” 32, 44–6
Villa Savoye (Le Corbusier) 203
virgin nature:

affronted see environmental art;
beautiful see positive aesthetics

visual indifference 112

Walton, K. (on categories of art) 53–71, 88–
9, 99;

nature and culture 58–9, 70;
nature and objectivity 53–5;
position 55–7, 69;
psychological claim 59–62, 70;
and science/knowledge 88, 91–2

Wechsler, J. 99
West, T. 44
Wilde, O. 20
Wimsatt, W.K. Jr 123
Wollheim, R. 130
wonder and awe 74, 80, 85
worship see theism/religion
Wrapped Coast (Christo) 159
Wright, F.L. 186, 192–2, 201, 203, 205,

206, 208, 209, 211, 212

Zen Buddhism 131, 173–4
Ziff, P. 40–2, 49, 77, 78, 88, 89, 105–6,

123, 131

INDEX 251

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