Ronald Hepburn, Trivial and Serious in Aes App of Nature

  1. Are a-c trivial aes app and high value stuff serious? Yes
  2. A-c seem to me to be important for policy, even if somewhat trivial?


  1. Duality of sensuous and thought components in much aes app of nature
    1. Sensuous immediacy (in pure cases one is taken aback by sky color or rolling away of mist from landscape)
    2. Most-often an element of thought is present
      1. Where implicitly compare/contrast here with elsewhere, actual with possible, present with past
      2. Implicit as need be no verbalizing or self-conscious complexity in the experience
    3. Thought element is undeniable
  2. Thought can't reasonably be held (in general and as such) to fight with aes character of an experience
    1. E.g., fall of a leaf: watch w/o thought, may or may not be moving/exciting aes object, but robbed of its poignancy, message of summer gone, symboling all falling including ourselves; this autumn linked to innumerable other autumns and to cycle of seasons
    2. Thought element brings analogies to bear on concrete particulars
    3. E.g., flight of swifts, wheeling, screaming; thought added that they have just returned from Africa, Schematic thought of that huge journey, seeming frailness, frantic, restless frightening burning up of energy, in ceaseless motion
  3. Thought is fused with perception (of tiny bird) and feeling
    1. Bring in metaphysical or religious background, nature as divinely created or as uncreated, enigmatically there
    2. Even this thought not externally juxtaposed to perception of natural object,
    3. Union/fusion, overall modification of awareness
    4. Feeling and thought elements and perception all interact

  1. **Seriousness/depth does not nec correlate with intensity/fullness of thought content
  2. Some thoughts (e.g., causal explan of particle physics) might not enrich, but neutralize, or fight and fail to fuse with perceptual content or even might trivialize
    1. Is he saying that for thought to be relevant/helpful, it needs to fuse with the perceptual content?
  1. No oblig to think in "perception-transcending" ideas/explan
    1. E.g., at molecular level of the rock of which valley made
    2. Thinking in what fragments or overwhelms or dissolves aes perception is not appropriate 71
    3. To destroy it can't be to deepen it
    4. Only think in what enrich's the aes perception?
      1. This suggests positive aesthetics-if only think in what enhances app, then what detracts from it we shouldn't think in?
    5. Does deepen mean enrich (make better?)
    6. So perception is the essential part?


  1. Rejects idea that aes exp not properly concerned with how things actually are and concern only with immediate given perceptual qualities the "sensuous surface"
    1. Such a limitation avoids many problems but is unacceptably thin version of aes app of nature
    2. Falling autumn leaf becomes small fluttering reddish brown material object
  2. Best is a mean between aes exp that is
    1. About the perception-transcending substructure of objects
    2. Other extreme is to exclude all thought and focus on sensuous immediacy only
  3. Compromise: Thought up to point it takes away from perception:
    1. Acceptable ideal for serious aes perception found by encouraging ourselves to enhance the thought load almost to point, but not beyond, at which it begins to overwhelm the vivacity of the particular perception


  1. How to dist trivial from serious in both perception and reflection (thought)
  2. Perception serious/trivial : attentive/inattentive, discriminating or undiscriminating, lively/lazy;
    1. Doors of perception can need cleansing
      1. Did you notice that vulture overhead? Turkey or black?
    2. Conventions and simplification of popular perception can need resisting
      1. Examples?
  3. Reflective component can be feeble or stereotyped, individual, original or exploratory, immature or confused, based on a metaphysically untenable thought
    1. Idyllic romanticized view of nature (ignore nature red in tooth and claw)
    2. See deer as Bambi
    3. This rainbow was placed here for me (self-indulgence)
  4. Trivializes when narrow aes response to a minimally reflective, passive perception

  5. 1ST APPROXIMATION (does he take this back at the end?)
  6. Trivial to extent distorts, ignores, suppresses truth about objects
    1. Feels or thinks about them in way falsify how nature really is

  7. Fear he has?: if have agreeable aes exp-perhaps trivial-don't think too hard about thought component, for aes delight will dissipate and have to work hard to regain at a deeper more serious level what one possessed at a more superficial one.
    1. Aes enjoyment at issue here?

  2. To see nature from ready-made standard views (pulloffs in National Parks)
  3. To see oneself as a detached viewer; deeper to see oneself as a part of nature
    1. Seriousness deepens when realize I am one with, part of nature
    2. Don't simply look out upon nature for we are part of the nature and where we are looking from is nature too
  4. Serious aes app of nature is nec also self-exploration;
    1. For energies, principles regularities and contingencies of nature sustain our embodied life and awareness as well

  2. Idea that aes exp of nature is founded on variety of illusions and can never be serious
  3. Aes exp of nature is unstable, wholly dependent on anthro factors such as scale, viewpoint perspective (Godlovitch's scale objection)
    1. Mountain we app for majesty, stability is on dif time scale as fluid as the ripples on a lake
    2. Put the distinctive natural object in a wider context in env and the aes quality you enjoy vanishes
    3. You shudder in awe at base of cliff towering above you; look at cliff from aircraft at 30,000 feet, and awe strikes one as misplaced, theatrical, exaggerated, even childish
    4. How can exp be serious if so readily undermined?

Reply to (Godlovitch's scale objection) and to idea Teton's aren't majestic cause dinky compared to Himalayas?

  1. This happens in art exp too (only app under certain conditions) and it doesn't seem to undermine arts worth when conditions for its proper app are fulfilled
    1. Too remote view point or too distant listening point can ruin impact of picture or performance of music
    2. W/o sympathetically preparing one's mental state many works of art can strike one as grotesque, comical
    3. There are conditions of satisfactory art exp that must be met
    4. So too with satisfactory aes exp of nature
    5. That the conditions are sometimes not met, doesn't undermine the worth of the app when they are met.
  2. Skeptical idea here assumes authority, that one viewpoint has authority
    1. View from aircraft allegedly shows what cliff is really like
      1. Shows that awe misplaced
    2. To dissipate majesty of stable mountain skeptical critic may appeal to universality of change and flux
  3. These are taken to annul/destroy our serious app of perceptual qualities of a self-selected fragment (artificially isolated from whole)

  1. Critic is saying I know/see something you are not aware of, from my distance/height your awe is shown misplaced
  2. But you at the foot of the cliff could say something similar
    1. You in aircraft can see a great deal, but are unable to perceive and respond to the perceptual qualities that generate the awe I feel
    2. Such a view has its limitations too
  3. This ironical, anti-romantic, belittling, leveling reaction is favored today as an authoritative reaction (you won't put anything over on me)
    1. Sociological of value is needed to see why is bought by so many people
    2. Readiness to conform to such a social trend can be a factor on side of trivialization, not seriousness
  4. Our aes exp of nature is thoroughly dependent on scale and individual viewpoint
    1. To fail to realize how deeply would trivialize
    2. Mature aes exp of nature realizes ones aes exp is perspectival
  1. Rejects implicit claim that one perspective, one view, one set of resultant perceived qualities takes precedence over another and so can discredit or undermine it or even all others
    1. Rejects that one has in aes context greater authority than another
  2. Does this mean the none of these perspectives are any better?
  3. Easier to deal with art examples
    1. Painting is made to be viewed from the distance at which see its sig detail and overall unity; music made to be hear closely enough to occupy our auditory attention in all detail

    1. Two elements that exert pressure in dif directions and in stressful relation
  5. One: Seriousness obtained by respect for truth, more objective truth such as sciences pursue, so long as give us thought that does not carry us beyond what we can fuse into essentially perceptual exp
    1. Thinking in to our perceptual ex what we know to be objectively true
    2. Glaciation as shaping a valley
    3. Anxiety coloring our response to seeing wild animal whose predator is seldom far off
    4. A correcting/guiding of our exp vie objetivizing movement of mind
  6. Two: Radically anti-hierarchical, anti-objetivizing trend toward ontological parity
    1. Perceptually corrected and veridical has no stronger or more serous claim to aes attention that illusory
      1. The problem I have with this point here is that view from airplane isn't more objective or correct!
      2. The reference to illusory troubles me; if it means the false then I (and he?) Don't want that.
      3. Thinking about how a river carved a U shaped valley is not serious or appropriate aes of the valley

  7. Ends paper with dilemma: Should we say?
  8. All this is a game we play with nature for enjoyment and enriching our lives and so follow whichever option promises more reward? (Reward =enjoyment?)
    1. We are free to respect, or ignore objetivizing, option
      1. True; but not free to make up stuff
    2. To feel bound to always pursue it is not really to show commitment to so-called seriousness, but to show a profound misunderstanding of the aesthetic
      1. Fair criticism of Carlson?
  9. Or is this simply and shockingly to capitulate to the trivializers?