The Initial Experience of Things – Perception and Aesthetics

There have been many different answers to the question of what conditions are required to constitute an aesthetic experience. Be it Kant’s disinterested contemplation, imaginative free play, or Hume’s concept of the ideal observer. All seem to be focused on a relatively restricted set of conditions in which the experience can be said to allow for an accurate aesthetic judgement. Within a certain set of conditions, it may be true enough, though the merit of aesthetic judgement itself is not our concern here. Instead let us turn attention towards the initial conditions and components of involved aesthetic experience prior to aesthetic judgement. (keep reading)

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The “Native” Question

No doubt each of us is familiar with the concept of native plants and animals. Nativism is by no means a new concept, but it is one that is often supported by fallacies and pseudoscience. It is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts in conservation policy. The problem is that the foundational values on which nativism rests is not clearly outlined in everyday thought because it is not a subject that is easily communicated since the value of native animals and plants has become so distorted through scientific understanding of ecology, the political and social perception of the “threat” of exotic species, and finally perhaps the most underappreciated source of value but perhaps mostly important to our appreciation of the concept of nativism which can be found in our rejection of the homogenisation of planetary ecology and the formation of mono-cultures resulting from invasive species. (keep reading)

Positive Aesthetics and Nature

In this discussion we will begin by exploring positive aesthetics in nature and attempt to understand why many thinkers about aesthetics posit that nature, properly understand has no negative aesthetic properties. Meaning that in a certain sense, It is inappropriate to view nature as ugly, deformed or disgusting. That all things in nature have are important for the functional operation of ecosystems and as such ought to induce as sense of appreciation in an aesthetic observer, if not of the scene directly then certainly of the natural processes involved. (keep reading)

Understanding How to Reshape Our Worldview (Part 2)

Aesthetics and aesthetic judgments are a source of significant contention in philosophy and each thinker on this topic has their own view on the meaning of the term. As such we will take things back to a basic formulation which is largely non-contentious. For our purposes here, the term is much more broadly encompassing going beyond any school of aesthetic thought and are instead zooming out and looking beyond art and nature into the realm of perception itself. In general, aesthetics in this context refers to the relationship between the person perceiving and the object being perceived, referring specifically to how we view the world around us. (keep reading)

Understanding How to Reshape Our Worldview (Part 1)

When considering Natural Aesthetics, one must at some point consider precisely what is meant not only by the term itself but also the meaning of each of its composite terms. A part of this means that we must understand each term on its own and how it interacts with and helps to shape our worldview. The term world view is meant as a as term that broadly speaking encompasses the sum of our understanding and perception of the world around us. The values, beliefs and traditions we each hold both feeds into and shapes the way we look at the world around us, and our experience of the world in turns feed back into our worldview allowing us to adjust and appreciate new knowledge, new modes of perception and new understandings. (keep reading)

A Cognitive Approach to Natural Aesthetic Experiences

One might consider however, that such a view must be directed in some way. Left to their own devices there would be no guarantee that those experiencing nature on its own terms, nor that they would see nature as it really is from a scientific perspective. Rolston III (1998) provides some insight here where he says in reference to the aesthetics of forests, though it easily applies to all natural aesthetics, “One must be moved, but one needs to be moved in the right direction, where "right" means with appropriate appreciation of what is actually going on.” –where “right” simply means towards an appropriate appreciation of nature on its own terms. (keep reading)

Why Aesthetics Matters for Environmentalism

Why should we care about making appropriate aesthetic judgements? There are two answers to this question, the first is obvious: Carlson (1981) says “By aesthetically appreciating nature for what it is, we will shape our ethical views such that there is the best opportunity for making sound ethical judgements regarding matters of environment and ecological concern” a very clear and concise point. Aesthetics has in modern times been argued to represent the way humans perceive the world around them – specifically focusing on the relationship between aesthetic object and the human perceiver more so then any focus on the formal properties of the object which consumed a great deal of the conversation about aesthetics. (Keep Reading)