Brady, Chapter 3: Culture, Art and Env.
- Culture and Nature 52:
- Brady's view on distinction between nature/culture, are humans part of nature, and
is nature a social construct?
- Three questions
- How to dist nature (natural) from culture (cultural, artefactual)
- Are humans a part of nature? (What counts as natural human behavior?)
- Is nature a cultural social construct or a reality out there separate from culture?
- It is not clear how this last issue influences above two
- Brady dist two views on opposite sides of spectrum
- One: "Holist, ecological position": nature is real and humans part of it
- Why can't nature be real and humans not part of it?
- She has a line in mind whereas I think we need a triangle
- Two: "Nature skeptical view": Nature is not real, but a cultural construct and
humans are exclusively cultural beings rather than part of nature (Because
everything is cultural)
- Problem here are that if nature is a cultural construct, it is real (as a construct) and humans could be part of it (also a cultural construct)
- Brady takes a position in the middle of these two, one of a range of positions that
answer these questions with degrees of more or less:
- Identify humans as more or less part of nature
- Make more or less a distinction between culture/nature
- Think there is a gray area between natural/unnatural, degrees of
naturalness and degrees of culture.
- Brady's views
- Nature is to some extent other
- Natural creatures and env are wonderfully (and not so wonderfully)
different and mysterious
- Nature is largely unmodified/untouched by humans
- But much of it is modified in varying degrees by ag, towns/cities, and
humans living on the land
- Sometimes use nature to refer to significantly modified areas (a national
- Pristine nature is a myth; come to use nature as ideal that no longer exists?
- Nature is not entirely a human cultural construct since it exists independently of
- Our idea of nature is shaped by human concepts and cultural conventions,
but this is not to say that nature is a cultural construct
- Nature is also other than human
- Human relation to nature characterized by both continuity and difference:
- We are a part of nature, but ways in which we are different from it too
- Reject the view that what humans produce is nec natural
- Ned's view: We both are and are not part of nature
- Part of nature in so far as biological creatures who engage in activities that
are natural: child-birth, living and attempting to flourish, decaying and
- Actions that modify env extensively can't be used to determine where
unnatural and cultural begins, since nonhumans modify env extensively
- Dist from nature in ability to control nature and transform it on a level
unmatched by nature
- Elliott's type of agency is what distinguishes humans, nonhumans: human
agency involves higher-order intentional states, heavy intrusion of culture,
social organization, economic arrangements
- Dist human cultural products and nature products, the former produces artefacts
- Artefacts are material embodiment of human intentionality
- Problem of nonhuman artefacts
- When humans modify and alter natural things, they produce objects more or less
cultural and artefactual, depending on extent of modification and interactions
- Problem of restoration-greater interaction results in more natural object
- How humans affect the landscape matters too: attempts to restore land
versus farm it, the former have much less impact on nature.
- No nec separation culture and nature
- Humans can be integrated into nature to varying degrees (e.g., indigenous people
and individuals with ecological lifestyle)
- Many envs: 55
- Environments are more or less natural by degree
- From wilderness, to slightly modified areas in the past (e.g., National Parks), to
countryside, to suburban, to urban, highly cultured artifactual areas and typical art
objects and other artefacts including technological objects (cars)
- Parks and gardens often less natural than they might appear
- But even in cities, nature has a role: weeds, animals, natural building
- Difference between types of env (more cultural/artefactual or more natural) affect our app
and aes qualities
- Is this the claim that exact same perceptual characteristics will be (should be) aes
app differently depending on whether they are natural or cultural?
- Is managed wilderness not natural because we manage it?
- When we manage an area we imprint our culture on envs through planning and
- Cultural landscape/environments
- E.g., countryside, grazed lands, hedge rows
- Object of Appreciation 60
- Two dimensions determine app
- Nature of object, kind of thing, and its origin (obj of app)
- Context of object, context of app and situation of aes object (context of app)
- Differences natural envs and artworks
- Biggest dif in origin: Art intentional and nature not
- Art embodies ideas and intentions of maker
- Art is about something: have rep, expressive content; meanings given by
artist; so app is directed by artist
- Nature not planned or executed, greater spontaneity, app not directed by
- Not look at natural object in attempt to "read" the meanings that the artist
- Example of a stature made by artist or by nature
- Although all the perceptual qualities are the same, we should not look for
signs of craftsmanship
- Assuming god did not design nature
- Natural teleology is not intentionality
- Does lack of intentionality affect expressive qualities?
- Natural objects can have expressive aspects
- How is not all that clear
- And Ziff argues that these expressive qualities not affected (impaired) by not being an
- Aes objects with mixed origins: both intentional and non-intentional aspect
- Get conflict between two, and tension
- See object as dynamic interactive relationship between natural processes
and human activity?
- Topiary, env. art, coppicing
- Some topiary "trivializes nature through human agency"
- Some env. art an affront to nature
- Coppicing for long straight poles and firewood
- Other differences between app of natural envs and art (besides intentionality or lack
- One: Greater freedom as interpretation not guided by artist intention
- More aes courage required (Hepburn)
- Two: Framed vs being environed: Bounded versus unbounded (being environed by
- Jazz (can't go on stage) But then can't go into middle of herd of elk to appreciate
- True some art is not bounded or framed, but for most part art is bounded
- Difference a matter of degree?
- Three: Ocularcentric versus multi-sensuous
- Four: Changeable (provisional) versus static
- Art objects generally much more static aesthetic objects than natural env
- Meaning, Interpretation and Cultural Landscapes 70
- What is interpretation? 71
- Interpretation: activity of discovering meaning, making sense of, putting
perception into a coherent whole that we can grasp
- What do you mean?
- Natural envs have no (given) meanings (unlike art objects?)
- Unlike of an art object, weird to ask "what does this natural object mean?"
- No meaning internal to landscapes (if natural; but if cultural may well be)
- We bring meaning to them or assign it via cultural frameworks
- Anti-intentionalism in art and the further idea that appreciators have a hand in
constructing the work of art via interpretations of it (constructivism?)
- Brady "supports moderate anti-intentionalism, for it is unnecessary to refer to
artist's intention to arrive at a defensible interpretation of an artwork"
- Mustn't the best interpretations of art take this into account?
- Cognitive model of interpretation: range of nec knowledge; from kn of amateur
naturalist to more sophisticated kn of ecologist/geologist
- Formalism: only formal properties (e.g., color, shapes) of aes object are relevant
- Representation, knowledge, and expression are irrelevant to work of art as art
- Formal properties and nothing else makes artifact a piece of art
- Brady: Middle ground between formalist and cog approaches to interpretation
- Her approach to interpretation puts less emphasis on cog sources for discovering
meaning through aes app
- Draw on associations, im and emotion, non-sci information and
- Concepts do play a role 75: Since aes interpretation is making sense of must be some way in
which concepts enter into interpretation, but w/o embracing cog approach
- Aes Interpretation and meaning:
- Meaning emerges via aes qual as perceived by individual who brings values,
preferences, more/less background kn, aes exp, perceptual and emotional
sensitivity and imaginative ability
- Meaning in aes app of nature
- "Explore meaning in relation to qual we perceive through what we sense,
imagine, feel emotionally about nature, or by the various narratives and
knowledge that may be fed into aes exp, (e.g., folklore, natural and human
history, myths, and religious)
- Not anything goes
- Role of personal exp: Is personal experience part of aes exp? (67 & 74)
- On p. 67 suggests that personal, and individual experience may permissibly be
brought to the aes appreciation
- Conflicts with Kant's (and her?) claims about DI?
- Cow example: "As I hear cows munching I am reminded of first time walked
through pasture, when pleasure tinged with fear of cows"
- DI requires we recognize certain meanings as personal and separate them from
more generalizable inter. 74
- Landscape becomes imbued with meaning from personal asso
- Emotion source of interpretation
- Dark, tall, heavy trees of forest lead to ascription of expressive qualities of being
magical or scary
- Philosophers disagree about point of interpretation of art
- Three views:
- One: Achieve under of artwork; do so by getting correct inter by ref to artist's
- Two: Proper aim is to maximize enjoyable aes exp and this can be done via a range
of acceptable inter of work
- Three: No single proper aim
- Brady embraces second position above:
- For Brady, point of interpretation is to enhance aes app: 75
- "Although I find it a little on humanistic side and even hedonistic side, 2nd
position is more appro to natural and aes context"
- "When no longer dealing with artefacts, proper aim of interpretation is to enrich
aes app in ways that enhance our aes encounters with natural env.
- "Interpretative activity uses imaginative ways to discover meaning in env, ways
that increase the value we find there"
- Better than seeking under via a single correct interpretation
- Is her idea these are the only two alternative aims of interpretation?
- But not aimed at increasing our pleasure
- One goal (in addition to app object for its own sake) is to increase respect for
nature: We should hope for and as a side effect to increase our sensitivity to
natural qualities and greater respect for nature
- 80: Aim of inter should fit with spirit of aes app as enriching encounter with
- Aim of aes is to enhance app by expanding our ways of relating to dif envs 81
- Why must interpretation of nature aim to increase value we find there?
- Clear this is wrong goal with art (as inter can have us see defects)
- Why can't inter of nature also-at times-decrease the value we find there?
- Interpretation and Kn
- Inter does not require more than basic concept framework we bring to nature
- basic concepts or ability to differentiate
- This is a tree this a rock
- Grass is usually green
- Sun rises in morning and sets in evening, flowers bloom in spring
- No particular kn nec to find meaning in surroundings
- Kn of local or of a visitor both okay
- As we move more toward cognitive sources of inter we move away from the aesthetic
- Move towards attempting to under landscape rather than its aes qualities and the
meanings connected to them
- I think Saito's and Hepburn's position better: add cog info in so far as it is bears on aes
qualities and does not drown out aes response
- Cog can be part of finding meaning
- Types of knowledge that are relevant
- Besides basic kn, add folk knowledge, kn gained by perceptual acquaintance with
- Human history and cultural significance
- E.g., wilderness as a place untouched by humans? Ned better: as symbolic of what
make America, America
- Religion and myth
- Aurora Borealis as "fox fires":
- Bright pulsating lights as effects of arctic fox's bushy tail which starts fires and
sprays snow into the night sky
- Aurora Borealis "the story as told by science"
- Not fiery art of arctic fox but caused by solar winds moving across upper
atmosphere and hitting gas molecules that create light
- Both folklore and sci provide acceptable interpretations; give alternative ways of seeing
spectator show in the sky
- If point to under phenomenon with kn as aim, science would give us fullest
- But that is not goal of making sense (inter) in aes context
- Aim of aes is to enhance app by expanding our ways of relating to dif envs
- How to dist acceptable from unacceptable inter of env?
- Don't' have to pin down which inter true
- But which are reasonable to make given particular cultures and types of envs
- Critical pluralism 79
- One inter story better than another or all stories equally legit?
- Critical pluralism sits between critical monism and anything goes
- She rejects Rolston's view that science provides the ultimate standard:
- Christian myth that mountains/valleys exist because God warped the earth (which
once was a perfect sphere) to punish evil humans;
- Science must banish these myths before we can understand in a corrected aes
- Note dif arctic fox story and Christian myth: Former (unlike latter) is not believed to be