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)

Turning the Lens on Ourselves

It is clear in natural aesthetics that our senses move us in our world view and our perspectives, but in what direction must be guided in some sense towards the reality of nature. With this understanding and with respect to nature, it is so important for many authors such as Carlson (1891) and Rolston (2002) for this experience to be positioned within a scientific lens and scientific appreciation. But not all experiences are going to be pleasant in nature and therefore aesthetics differs so distinctly from our hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, indeed at times it can induce experiences of terror, disgust and ugliness (Brady 1998). (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)

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. (Keep reading)

Aesthetic Normativity

The whole field of aesthetics has become significantly less fashionable in recent years as it has continued to encounter scepticism over whether aesthetic judgements are anything other than an individual’s subjective judgement. On this view, aesthetic judgements tell us nothing about the object in question as a matter of fact and speaks solely to the disposition and preference of the individual making the judgement “x is beautiful”. Such judgements on this view are nothing more than opinion, and that there is no relationship whatsoever between human experience and of cold empirical objective reality – “x is beautiful” on this view is the same as saying “I like x”. However, when we put the sceptical view of aesthetics under pressure, it quickly begins to crack and unravel, particularly as one soon finds that scepticism of this kind is deeply rooted in an ideology of extreme toleration bound up with post-modernist thought. (keep reading)