Nature and Aesthetic Judgement

Aesthetic Judgements of nature represent our ability to perceive and catalogue the world around us on a psychological and physiological level. While these judgements are a matter of perception, and each of us has a different understanding of the world around us, a whale is still a whale and a beach is still a beach and each still possesses the same properties that categorises them as one or the other – one’s personal preferences are only marginally linked to judgement as it is a process of understanding and not of taking mere pleasure in the world around us. Aesthetic judgements of natural objects are typically formed on our ability to understand it and reside in it – these judgements are made with respect to the objective facts and objective reality that we each perceive and feel our way through to find meaning in life. As such judgements of this kind are heavily scrutinised and for good reason – truth is something that is morally valuable for humans especially when it comes to aesthetics because of the key role it plays in shaping our reality – and is important in helping us not to merely survive, but to flourish. After all the person who cannot perceive what is really there or worse yet perceives it incorrectly is in a very bad way. Unlike human created aesthetic objects, nature is not always as easy to determine if judgements are appropriate as they are with human produced works of art, it is all to easy to turn away from a cliff face in terror if one feels a direct threat and is unable to position themselves in a “disinterested” way – while aesthetics is about perception – it is of a very particular kind which breaths life into reality for us. Scientific facts alone cannot give us aesthetic judgements they can only aide in facilitating a better understanding of the world around us, as Rolston points out, “…we cannot appropriately appreciate what we do not understand” said about the aesthetic appreciation of landscapes, but is easily extended to nature more broadly as Rolston himself indications in later works – and it is this that commands us to venture beyond the scenic beauty of nature into a much more holistic and complete understanding and appreciation of it – after all it is simply false to assume that all of nature represents set of “picture postcards” indeed to see it in such a way in its entirety might be seen as inappropriate, and we have already established why appropriate aesthetic appreciation is so important.

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