Noel Carroll

 “On Being Moved by Nature =(BMBN):  Between Religion and Natural History”


1.     Allen Carlson unfairly excludes BMBN as a legitimate way to aes app nature

2.     Examples of BMBN

a.      Standing under a waterfall and being excited by its grandeur

b.     Walking barefoot through the woods and feeling homey- ness

c.     Being taken by the grace of deer as they vault over a stream

3.     BMBN involves

a.     Being emotionally aroused by nature (arousal theory)

b.     Letting nature put you in an emotional state

c.     This is a common app response to nature

d.     More visceral, less intellectual (than Carlson’s natural history model)

                                                              i.      Carlson seems committed to idea professional knowledge required for (best?) appreciation of nature

e.     This less informed, naïve emotional response is acceptable

                                                              i.      Did Carlson ever say it wasn’t acceptable?

f.       A non-scientific arousal (even though its emotional component has a cognitive dimension that permits objectivity, this dimension is not systematic common sense or scientific knowledge)

4.     Uninformed emotional arousal possible and acceptable in both art and nature

a.     One can appreciate art appropriately and be emotionally aroused w/o knowledge of genre/style/relevant art history (253)

b.     A legitimate alternative to app response of informed connoisseur

c.     Examples

d.     Children can be amused w/o knowing tradition or place among artistic genres


                                                            ii.      Would Carlson say sure such arousal is appropriate for children, but childish or at least naïve, unsophisticated, shallow for adults?

e.      Appreciate insult in Duchamp’s fountain w/o knowing details of art history

f.       Viewing Man Ray’s “the Gift” (iron with nails on bottom):  Can appreciate the dark humor and realize the object is at odds with itself w/o knowing its place in Dada and art history context

5.     Carroll a pluralist: More than one appropriate way to app nature (Carlson a monist?)

a.      Carlson’s naturalist’s appreciation of nature is proper, but so is arousal model (even object model can be appropriate sometimes 253)

b.     BMBN and naturalist’s appreciation can come together

                                                              i.      BMBN can be due to naturalist’s knowledge

1.     Glaciers see as rivers of ice

2.     Pitcher plants being carnivorous

                                                            ii.      But BMBN need not be due to naturalists knowledge

6.     How Carroll’s BMBN solves problem of aesthetic focus w/o relying on natural history

a.      Rejects Carlson’s science by elimination argument

                                                              i.      Problem of aes focus:  what relevant?  What focus on?

                                                            ii.      Unlike in  art where have artistic categories, with nature app artistic categories not appropriate

                                                          iii.      So must be natural science categories that allow us to focus

                                                         iv.      What else could do this?

b.     Carroll says in BMBN aes focus fixed in process of emotional arousal

                                                              i.      There are natural frames and natural saliences

                                                            ii.      Given the kinds of beings we are with the senses we have

                                                          iii.      Our attention will be directed to certain things and not others (e.g., sounds of the water)

                                                         iv.      This requires no particular cultural information (and specifically not scientific information)

                                                           v.      Some emotional arousals bred in the bone and not culturally based

7.     Carroll’s BMBN allows for objectivity in aes app of nature (something Carlson’s NEM allows that Carroll supports)

                                                              i.      Both deny Fisher’s suggestion that only art app is objective (no mistake if think Tetons are agonized rather than majestic, but a mistake if think Munch’s “The Scream” is joyful. 

b.     Carroll thinks judgments of aes app such as the “Tetons are majestic” are objective (and true?)

c.     Agrees that bringing in science as Carlson does gets you objectivity

                                                              i.      E.g., Whale a clumsy fish or impressive mammal

d.     But can get objectivity w/o science (w/o seeing nature appreciation as a type of natural history)

e.      Can reject the view that it is appropriate to appreciate nature any way one wants (subjectivism) even if this appreciation is emotion based

8.     BMBN can have objectivity for emotions have objectivity (257-258)

a.     As an emotional state, BMBN is appropriate or not

b.     Appropriateness is the truth (objectivity) of emotions

                                                             i.      Being amused by suffering of babies inappropriate

                                                           ii.      Laughing at Munch’s the scream is an inappropriate emotional response

c.     Emotions are cognitive (they are underpinned by beliefs, thoughts and patterns of attention)

d.     Emotions are directed at objects

                                                             i.      Some emotions appropriately directed at some objects and others not

                                                           ii.      Fear of oncoming tank (appropriate)

                                                        iii.      Fear of chicken soup (inappropriate)

1.     Unless you believe it is poisoned

9.     Objective emotions are those where

a.     The emotion is appropriate for its object

b.     The beliefs underlying the emotion are ones reasonable for others to share

10.                          Emotions directed at nature can be objective (or not)

a.     Being excited by the grandeur of something (e.g., Tetons) one believes is of large scale is appropriate

b.     If the belief in its large scale is reasonable for others to hold, it is an objective emotional arousal (not subjective, distorted, or wayward)

c.     Person who says Tetons are not of a large scale is either

                                                             i.      Irrational

                                                           ii.      Has wrong comparison class (Tetons are not large scale because they are tiny compared to the Galaxy)

d.     Person who says they are large scale but not exciting has inappropriate emotional response

11.                          Thus, Carroll’s emotional arousal model (BMBN) can allow for objectivity in aes app of nature as does Carlson’s naturalists knowledge model (NEM)

12.                          Carroll thinks one can be appro moved by nature even with false beliefs about it

                                                             i.      Contra Carlson’s idea that appro app of nature requires naturalist knowledge of nature

                                                           ii.      Carroll argues that knowledge needn’t be relevant for even false belief is okay

b.     Examples

                                                             i.      Excited by grandeur of size, force, water displaced of a blue whale and believe it is a fish.  Not inappro.

                                                           ii.      Moved by skeleton of T-rex and not know if it is a reptile, bird, or mammal

                                                        iii.      Don’t both these examples involve some scientific (or at least relatively sophisticated common sense) knowledge?

c.     Notice that  Carroll’s examples are ones where the false belief does not influence the aesthetic response

                                                             i.      When the false belief affects the aes response, it is not clear that the response is appro when based on false belief

                                                           ii.      Examples:

1.     A awesome rat or a cute woodchuck?

2.     An awkward deer or a graceful moose?

13.                          Carroll’s response to Carlson’s implicit criticism that BMBN is not a deep aesthetic response

a.      Carlson might say BMBN is not inappropriate, but rather simply a shallow, trivial, mere enjoyment of nature and not the serious deep appreciation of naturalists (whose appreciation is informed by knowledge)

b.     Carroll’s reply:

c.     If “deep” means objective, not simply enjoying nature whatever way one pleases, then show that BMBN has objectivity and is deep in this sense

d.     If “deep” means time/length of appreciation, okay perhaps BMBN is less deep in this sense, as naturalists appreciation can go on and on as she learns more and emotional arousal ends quickly

e.     If “deep” means intensity of involvement, the BMBN is just as deep, perhaps deeper, than scientific-based app

f.       We will be reading an article by Hepburn where he explores the meaning of shallow versus  deep in the aes app of nature

14.                          BMBN is not some displaced religious feeling but can be explained naturalistically as built in by natural selection

a.     Those who had positive emotional responses environments that we prospered in  (savannahs) prospered, those who didn’t and like harmful environments (jungles) didn’t survive.

b.     BMBN is “between religion and natural history”