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)

On the Subject of Predation

Predation is a subject that has caused considerable debate within the environmental and animal rights communities for several decades. The answer is simple enough on face value, predatory relationships are not only perfectly normal in wild nature but that it has numerous ecological benefits in most areas where predation is common. But where the conversation gets murky is when we start to consider the role humans play here. For many of us the answer is simple, predatory behaviour is nature, humans are natural beings and therefore it is perfectly nature for humans to engage in this behaviour. (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)

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)