1.      Science approach is a middle approach between PM and Formalism

         a.      PM (any thought is okay); Formalism (no thought is okay); Science (some thought is okay)

2.      Scientific approach

         a.      Appropriate aes appreciation of nature is appreciation with thought component shaped, at least partially, by body of knowledge compiled by natural sciences

         b.      To appreciate nature appropriately or more seriously (note these two not the same) need to draw on what science has revealed about aes object

         c.      Science can tells us what sort of thing it is, what properties it has, what it does, how came to be

                   i.       Such knowledge will allows us to better appreciate the object


3.      What science approach say about Penny, Fred, and Sam

4.      Problem with Penny’s mythological approach to aes appreciation of stars

         a.      Treats them as something they are not (mythological characters)

         b.      Rather than distant balls of flaming gas belonging to larger astronomical structures such as galaxies

5.      Problem with Fred’s delight in formal pattern of stars is similar

         a.      Not appreciating them for what they are (stars)

         b.      Not including any facts about the stars in thought component

6.      Sam’s aes appreciation of stars (distant bodies separated by huge distances) most appropriate

         a.      Delights in

                   i.       Striking clarity of images despite having traveled unimaginably large distances

                   ii.      Intricate movement of planets, including earth, due to gravitational forces

         b.      Better succeeds in treating object of appreciation as the natural thing it is and thus appreciates it appropriately

7.      Sam’s understanding of what he’s looking at in night sky alters the way the scene appears to him

         a.      For thought to be aesthetically relevant it has to be infused into perceptual appearance


8.      Analogy with art argument: Art needs art history, nature needs natural history

         a.      If appropriate art appreciation requires understanding art history

                   i.       Namely, knowledge of theory and history of art, of artistic styles and traditions

         b.      So nature appreciation requires understanding natural history (as provided by common sense and science)

                   i.       Need knowledge of different environments/objects: Massive awe inspiring rat or cute woodchuck?


         c.      In both cases we need knowledge about facts concerning the object for appropriate aes appreciation

9.      Nature critic functions like art critic

         a.      So in place of the art historian and critic who is “well equipped” to aes appreciate art

         b.      In nature appreciation we have the “nature critic”--naturalist and ecologist

10.    Role of scientist not identical to role of nature critic

         a.      Most science does not involve aes appreciation of nature at all

         b.      Many/most scientists have neither interests nor talents in that direction

         c.      Being a good nature critic surely takes more than having scientific understanding


11.    Science necessary and/or sufficient for appropriate aes appreciation?

         a.      Scientific understanding is not sufficient for aes appreciation of nature

         b.      But on this account scientific understanding is necessary for appropriate (or better, the best sort of) aes appreciation of nature



12.    Ethical considerations in favor of science approach


13.    One: Aes appreciation should manifest respect for nature, willingness to approach nature on own terms

         a.      Since appropriate appreciation on science view requires thought components be based on facts about nature, it satisfies this requirement

         b.      Sam, but not Penny or Fred approach starry heavens on own terms

         c.      Both fail to appreciate nature for what it is (“on its own terms”)


14.    Two: Science approach allows aes value to play a meaningful role in debates over environmental preservation for it has objectivity

         a.      Unlike PM which claims any aesthetic response is as good as any other, and thus undermines the role of aesthetics in environmental policy

         b.      Science approach argues that appreciation informed by nature is more appropriate than others

         c.      This adds a dimension of objectivity to aes judgment (as science is our paradigm of objectivity)

         d.      Wetlands example:

                   i.       If find swamps boring, nasty, and ugly because of scientific ignorance about them (falsely believe they are buggy and useless to humans), then one’s aes response are inappropriate/wrong as they are based on mistaken scientific beliefs about swamps

         e.      True no numbers/not quantifiable

                   i.       But neither are there numbers in art criticism and art critics can resolve some disputes; so nature critics ought to be able to resolve some disputes about aes value of nature


15.    Three: Science based view will lead to better environmental protection (for several distinct reasons)

16.    First: Lead to less mismanagement and mis-protection of nature

         a.      Examples

                   i.       Bambi stereotype harmful

                   ii.      Misleading views of sharks and snakes and wolves from narrative that has led to mistreatment of these creatures, aes appreciation based on sound ecological knowledge will correct this mistreatment

                            (1)    e.g., Wolves rarely attach humans, for example, and they provide essential prey control services

17.    Second: Science based approach will expand the scope of what we find aes appealing in nature (& this is good for nature protection)

         a.      Today we have a division between

                   i.       “Easy beauty” of nature showpieces (mountains, waterfalls cliffs, lakes, oceans), and

                   ii.      Unscenic nature (wetlands and prairies) that many consider boring or ugly

                            (1)    Creation of Florida Everglades National Park drew objections

                            (2)    “Mighty little of special interest, and nothing beautiful; not as ugly and repulsive as some swamps, but a long way from being fit for a national park”

                            (3)    This negative appraisal due to inappropriate appreciation

                            (4)    Formalism: Use of formal criteria, appealing array of lines colors and shapes, and prairie, wetlands lacks these

                            (5)    Post modernism: bring our own values to nature; see ourselves in it and small wonder we find high mountains attractive rather than wetlands

         b.      Unscenic nature can be aesthetically appealing when appreciated using science

                   i.       When reject our prejudices and see them for what they are

         c.      Prairie example

                   i.       Tedious to the casual glance, literally nothing to look at, ubiquitous flat horizon

                   ii.      Thinking about natural history of prairie can change this perception

                   iii.     See it under the low bellies of the buffalo

                   iv.     A specialized habitat for a range of creatures adapted to survive in a particular ecological niche

                   v.      Marvel at its flatness realizing it was scraped down by massive glaciers grinding it down over thousands of years

                   vi.     Realize prairies are an ancient sea bed

                            (1)    Might give the prairie a slightly eerie quality

         d.      Wetlands example: seem foul hideous and disordered but not when viewed as interrelated ecological system


18.    Third: Science approach supports positive aesthetics (which is good for nature protection)


19.    Positive Aesthetics (= PA) = All of pristine nature is beautiful

20.    Science supports PA because

         a.      Everything in nature takes on significant aes value when seen in light of scientific information about it

         b.      Science approach makes possible aes appreciation of the unscenic, boring, ugly landscapes and objects

21.    PA intuitively implausible for art

         a.      Parallel claim for art not plausible: No aes poor artworks?

         b.      Much art is mediocre and some is truly awful


22.    Two arguments for PA

23.    One: Saito’s Science always provides interesting story argument

         a.      Natural science shows everything in nature has interesting story

         b.      For any natural entity, whether organism, rock, lake, cloud

         c.      Some branch of science will disclose rich account of how came to be, how it works and what made of

         d.      If can read nature’s story, every part of nature will be of aes interest

         e.      Natural science stories reflected in appearance

                   i.       Stories are presented in visual composition of natural things and knowing these stories causes them to appear differently

                   ii.      Flatness of prairie is a visible indication of an ancient geological process operating on an unimaginable scale

                   iii.     Objection of Parsons: not all natural objects’ appearance present their stories as does the visual appearance of a layers of rock, for example

24.    Two: Carlson’s Science is Aesthetic argument for PA

         a.      Science involves making world intelligible by finding in it order, regularity, harmony, balance, and so on

         b.      These qualities make world comprehensible to us but are also ones we find aes good

         c.      So once science makes a bit of nature intelligible, it will be aes positive

         d.      On Carlson’s view not possible for particular natural thing to be aes appreciated in light of science and yet lack aes value

                   i.       Whereas we can app things formally and they can lack aes value


25.    Objections to PA

         a.      Grossly malformed living things remain grotesque no matter how comprehensible science renders their malformation (Budd)

         b.      Stampeding elephants don’t look orderly even though the scientific understanding of this event gives it an order (Parsons)

         c.      PA a “politically correct” prohibition against pointing out ugliness of certain natural things, a sentimental a priori thought (Diffey)



27.    One: Makes much actual aes appreciation less appropriate or inappropriate

         a.      Is scientific knowledge of changes in leaf color is required for appropriate appreciation, many who enjoy fall leaf colors not appreciating them appropriately

         b.      This is a problem

28.    Two: Is elitist as holds naturalist and ecologist are better equipped to aes appreciate nature than those of us who lack their insight into nature

         a.      Not sure this is a problem; Art experts are better able to aes appreciate art than those ignorant of it

         b.      In political process, aes experts would get power over common people’s aesthetic responses (Brady)

29.    Three: Constrains our freedom in interpreting/conceptualizing nature and ultimately limits our enjoyment.


30.    Reply by science advocates that each of the 3 above holds for art appreciation; why problem for nature app?

         a.      Strolling through a gallery and picking out pieces that happen to strike one’s eye is not serious appreciation

         b.      “Elitism” that says art experts are better qualified to judge work of art is entirely reasonable

                   i.       Galleries should be run and art competitions by those competent to assess those works

         c.      That we could get more enjoyment out of an artwork by inventing a fictitious author or considering it as something it is clearly not is not a reason to think of this as serious art criticism


31.    Four: Science too abstract and intellectual and not aesthetic

         a.      Unlike art where knowledge of art categories can affect our perception of art object, science is so abstract/theoretical not likely to be able to alter our perceptions and a focus on science may lead us away from the particular object of appreciation

         b.      Overly intellectual approach to nature gets in way of aes appreciating

                   i.       Mark Twain learning of scientific principles of river navigation led to “the romance and beauty of the river were all gone; only value any feature now had was usefulness it could serve for safe piloting of the steamboat”

                   ii.      Heyd: If really focused on appropriate scientific classification of Olympic mountains, it would divert his attention from those mountains and be harmful to aes appreciation of environment in which immersed

                   iii.     Hepburn: Some thought components are so abstract and theoretical they overwhelm or dissolve the aes perception instead of enriching it

         c.      Science approach not aes app at all

                   i.       Science approach not a theory of aes app of nature

                   ii.      Thinking of nature scientifically shifts attention away from perceptual appearance and away from nature’s aes qualities.

32.    Reply: Some parts of science relevant and helpful, some not

         a.      Perhaps abstract parts of science can’t enrich aes app (or even interferes with it)

         b.      But knowledge from more particular aspects of science can enrich

         c.      Saito

                   i.       Physics and chemistry take us away form aesthetics

                   ii.      Biology and geology can enhance or modify our initial perceptual experience

                   iii.     Geological process of prairie formation relevant, but perhaps soil composition is not

                   iv.     Science that is “realizable on the sensuous surface” is relevant and can change the objects aesthetic qualities

         d.      Just like knowing some things about art may enrich our aes app of it (political context of creation) but others not (knowing how many owners it had)

Study Questions for Ch 4 Parsons: Science approach

1.      Explain in what sense the science approach takes a middle position between the post modern approach and formalism.

2.         Explain what the science approach claims about appropriate aes appreciation of nature.

3.         Why does the science approach object to a mythological and formal approach to appreciating the night sky?

4.         **Explain how the science approach is supported by the “analogy with art argument”. Exactly what is that argument?

5.         Does the science approach claim that scientific knowledge is sufficient for appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature? Does it claim such knowledge is necessary?

6.         Explain why the post modern approach undermines the role of aesthetics in environmental policy. Now explain why the science approach does not. Use the wetland example to illustrate this.

7.         Explain several reasons why proponents of the science approach believe it will lead to better environmental protection.

8.         Explain the doctrine of “positive aesthetics.” Does this idea make sense for art? Explain one argument in support of positive aesthetics. Identify some alleged counterexamples to positive aesthetics and assess their merit.

9.         Explain some of the objections to the science based approach that Parsons considers (as well as the responses). Do you think these objections are successful?