Thomas Heyd, (2001, BJA)
"Aesthetic Appreciation and the Many Stories about Nature"
- Heyd's interpretation of Carlson
- Proper aes app of nature requires science
- Science is the primary story that informs or should inform out aes
- Is it accurate?
- Ignores Carlson's allowance of some mythological information
in his article "Landscape and Literature" (if it is culturally
- Carlson thinks that for humanized lands, like agricultural lands,
functional information is necessary
- Probably a fairer interpretation of Carlson's view is that science
is part of the best aes app of pristine nature.
- HEYD'S THREE ARGUMENTS AGAINST CARLSON
- ONE: KNOWING THE HISTORY (ORIGIN, AETIOLOGY) OF
ART/NATURE IS NEITHER NECESSARY NOR SUFFICIENT
FOR (PROPER, BEST, ANY KIND?) AES APP
- ART HISTORY NOT NEC FOR ART APP
- Potted art history (slamming artworks into art categories)
- Can't tell us if a work is
- Has strengths other works lack
- Can't help us app contemporary (avant garde and anti-art) art
- But to know if something is new, need to know the old; need
knowledge for comparison
- Isn't knowledge of contemporary art scene crucial for app avant
- Heyd thinks art app requires
- Long searching exposure to may works
- Conversation with others about criteria of evaluation
- Personal reflection on significance of works style and execution
- Doesn't study of art history and art criticism give us these?
- Heyd's a critique of straw man view of art history
- As if all we are supposed to do is place the work in a category
- Claims it is like reading label on wine bottle or reading bionote
on wall next to painting
- Worrying about origin of an aes object is not fundamental to aes app
- Fundamental to aes app for Heyd is attentive perception/experience
of aes object, sensitive sensory attention
- Yes perception is crucial, but so is understanding and cognitive
- NATURE: INFORMATION ABOUT ORIGIN OF NATURE NOT
NECESSARY OR SUFFICIENT (OR IMPORTANT?) FOR ITS AES
- One can thoroughly enjoy a strand of trees in meadow w/o knowing
- Its evolutionary history (ancient lineage began with dinosaurs)
- Taxonomy (that it is in the same family as an extinct species)
- Its individual development (that lightening hit that tree)
- Heyd seems to accept idea that aes app = enjoyment/pleasure
- TWO (SECOND ARG AGAINST CARLSON): SCIENTIFIC
KNOWLEDGE CAN BE NEUTRAL OR HARMFUL TO AES
APP OF NATURE (SO SCIENCE IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR
- Preoccupation with natural history can hamper sensuous
appreciation of trees (e.g., skin like, red green trunks)
- General reason science tends to hurt is that it focuses on universal
rather than concrete
- Draws us away from particular concrete character of individual
- This is what aes app should be focused on
- Science has us focus on the theoretical, general, abstract, what is
common to all things of this sort.
- Why isn't seeing the universal in the particular aes object good for aes
- E.g., seeing it as member of endangered species
- Leopold's marshland elegy
- Three: Aes app of nature is a unique mode of discovering what
nature is (p. 129)
- Science forces us back into set categories
- HEYD'S OWN VIEW OF NATURE APPRECIATION
- Aes app of nature requires (instead of or in addition to? theoretical
- Attentive sensitive sensory attention
- Keen capacity for this
- Aes app (=attentive sensory attention) is prone to fatigue
- Need endurance (aesthetic endurance)
- Enriching our aes horizons
- Contrasting aes/perceptual experience
- Developing an agile imagination
- Diverse stories ("the many stories of nature") help with all of these.
- Bored by endless prairie, read stories about settlers in the west
- Artistic stories do better engaging ordinary people than does
- Artistic stories widen our aes community by putting us in touch
with how others aes app nature and this can enhance our app
- Aboriginal myth of supernatural being in the land can direct our
attention and get us to notice perceptual features of land missed
- Landscape painting can get us to pay attention to nature longer
and aid in aes app
- Ancient rock art on canyon walls can lead us to wonder what
plants natives used, where they got their water, where they slept
- Heyd's goal: to increase our capacity to attend perceptually to
- Different goals Heyd/Carlson
- Carlson: what information is aesthetically relevant?
- Heyd: what causally helps us aes app?
- Whips, reward, hypnosis, Paul Bunyan story
- If Ritalin helps us concentrate on art object and prevent
fatigue, it is relevant.
- Heyd considers three objections to his position
- One: Stories are subjective/false so problematic
- Two: Stories are cultural so irrelevant to app of pristine nature
- Three: Stories are value laden so distort aes app
- One: False, subjective, noncredible stories (e.g., Paul Bunyan) are
irrelevant and misleading to aes app.
- Heyd's reply
- Takes a case by case functional view of appro stories
- If stories lead to aes app of nature, besides the point if T/F, okay even if
- What matters about stories/information is
- Do they enrich capacities for aes app
- Do they lead to full flourishing of aes app
- Enhance aes app
- Highlight (not obscure) aes appreciable features of nature
- Illuminate aes object in new and fruitful ways
- The wider the reach of aes app of nature the better
- Both for own sake as pleasurable activity
- Generate interest in protecting natural world
- If stories/account
- Subverts full flourishing of aes app
- Obscures, detracts/diminishes aes app
- E.g., "Earth a ruined refuge of fallen angels and sinful people"
- Then they are not relevant or appropriate
- Heyd is not pure subjectivist about relevant information
- Not any account is legitimate
- Why is enhance aes app right criterion?
- What if it enhances our aes app of toxic waste dumps, strip
highways, industrial agriculture
- What if a false eco story (like "everything is hitched to everything
else" or "balance of nature" enhance aes app of nature?
Thomas Heyd, Aesthetic Appreciation and the Many Stories about Nature
- He seems to be concerned with the intensity of aesthetic appreciation; whatever stories
- He ignores Carlson's requirement that the app must be about the object, and not some
false account of it.
- True, believe that Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox babe created all the lakes in Minnesota
may "stimulate intense aesthetic appreciation of those lakes"; make us pay more attention
to how many there are, but such information is not relevant to their proper aes app.
- "Whether the entities referred to are credible is irrelevant if it turns out that such stories
do in fact guide and mediate the aesthetic appreciation of nature"
- Whatever contributes to the "full flourishing of aes app"
- Stories need to be evaluated on a case by case basis for degree to which they highlight or
obscure aesthetically appreciable features of nature.
- The story about Babe can highlight the aes app feature of Minnesota lakes that
they are all over the place.
- Consider stories from a functional point of view will they illuminate the object of aes
consideration in a new and fruitful way
- If stories enrich our capacities to app the natural env. aesthetically then they are relevant.
- Will this story lead to an enhancement of our capacity for aes app or not?
- At end he says that "the wider the reach of aes app of nature the better, both for its own
sake and as a way to generate interest in protection of little undisturbed nature left."
- Criticizes Carlson's reliance on science as narrowing our aes app. So even if it is
false, if it gives us aes pleasure and helps protect the env. it is app aes app?
- Allen: Is the following a fair assessment/critique of what Thomas Heyd claims in
"Aesthetic Appreciation and the Many Stories about Nature"? If the Paul Bunyan story
about how his Blue Ox Babe's hoof prints are responsible for the great number of
Minnesota lakes "enhances our aesthetic appreciation of nature" by "highlighting
aesthetically appreciable features of nature" (the great number and variety of lakes) then
this story is relevant to and helpful in the aesthetic appreciation of nature. It seems to me
Heyd has little room to distinguish appropriate from inappropriate aesthetic appreciation
of nature (beyond how great or intense the appreciation is) and that he is unable to meet
the requirement that appropriate appreciation of nature ought to be about how nature in
fact is, rather than an appreciation of a make-believe nature.