Parsons, Ch 5, Pluralism


1.      Pluralism rejects

         a.      Science approach claim that aes app of nature must be informed by sci

                   i.       Kn of facts from science (or art history) not necessary for appro app

                   ii.      Can appreciate art/nature appro w/o bringing any such knowledge to bear

         b.      Formalist approach: that formal appreciation the only legitimate kind

         c.      Post-modern approach: That all though components are permissible

                   i.       Pluralism believes some ways of appreciating art/nature inappropriate

2.      Pluralism endorses wide range (plurality) of different (and equally good) ways to aes app nature, including

         a.      Moderate Pluralism allows (any nature for what it is, factually)

                   i.       Science based app

                   ii.      Formalist app

                   iii.     Arousal approach (“being moved by nature”)

         b.      Robust Pluralism allows above plus (“nonfacutal” fictional thoughts, app nature for what is not)

                   i.       Myth/cultural stories

                   ii.      Personal associations



4.      Moderate pluralism: Any way to app nature that app nature for what it is, is acceptable


5.      Moderate pluralism on formalism

         a.      Formalism acceptable as a partial app of nature/art

         b.      True formal approach misses a lot

                   i.       If app work formally, say Guernica or mountain, one misses many of its aes qualities (those that depend on knowing facts about these aes objects)

         c.      But some of aes qualities are apparent even w/o knowledge of these facts (namely its formal qualities)

         d.      Nature/art is more than perceptual array of lines, shapes and colors, but this perceptual array is part of what nature/art is

                   i.       Nature/art are things that produce these formal perceptual impressions


         e.      Formalism’s engagement failure made up for by pluralism addition of engagement

                   i.       Formalism forces us disengage ourselves physically from nature by withdraw to scenic viewpoint to appreciate its formal qualities

                            (1)    Thereby losing the sense of envelopment forest brings

                            (2)    Misses much of what nature has to offer

                   ii.      Since pluralist takes formal app as only one dimension of nature/art appreciation this is not a problem for one can see formalism as one part of a richer pluralistic approach

6.      Pluralism multiple approach

         a.      View forest/mtn from scenic pull over and get formal aes qualities

         b.      Then walk into it to get aes qualities of engagement

         c.      Then conceptualize it scientifically and get those aesthetic qualities

         d.      But given pluralism’s commitment to equality in aes app approaches, the combined multiple approach is not better than the allowable unitary approaches


7.      Pluralism also accepts

8.      Carroll’s “being-moved by nature” (arousal approach, nature app as emotional arousal)

         a.      Standing under thundering waterfall and being excited by grandeur

                   i.       Delight in way nature’s appearance connected with and reflective of those feelings

         b.      Does involve a thought component, so not formalist

                   i.       If moved by grandeur of waterfall, must conceptualize it as a large object

         c.      Not scientific though component

                   i.       Though component does not require specialized kn of nature like science approach requires, but the kind of conceptualization that any normal person with properly functioning senses would instinctively (cultural kn not involved) bring to nature

         d.      A more naive and less intellectual, more visceral approach

         e.      Just as appro as science approach, not in anyway defective or inappro

         f.       Meets the requirement to app nature for what it is, rather than something it is not (a way of characterizing analogy with art argument=AWAA)

         g.      The waterfall really is a large object,

                   i.       Commedia dell’arte really is silly/funny


9.      Moderate pluralist agrees with ethical arg need to respect nature and take it on own terms

         a.      Imagining

                   i.       Two nearby mountains as a gigantic set of breasts, or

                   ii.      Pretending wild animal has human-like intentions

                   iii.     Disrespect nature for fails to take it on own terms

         b.      Rejects treating nature in a cavalier fashion and as being something it is not

         c.      App nature for formal qualities or for how it emotionally moves us not like this

                   i.       Not cavalier nor construe if for what it is not


10.    Pluralist allows science app but gives it no special place

         a.      Recommend learn and deploy scientific information in aes app

         b.      But under no obligation to use it

         c.      Science approach has no special or privileged place in aes of nature (and science boosters say it does

         d.      Nothing that makes science informed app of night sky better than a formalist app–either just as good

11.    Seems to me an insistence on using all these means of app would be a fuller approach and better in this regard.



13.    Robust pluralism allows app natural things as things they are not

         a.      Unlike moderate pluralism which rejects this

14.    Robust pluralism claims that not all thought components are permissible (rejects PM)

15.    RP rules out nature app with thoughts that disrespects nature and fail to take nature on its own terms

16.    RP claims can take nature on own terms, even when treat/imagine it to be something it is not


17.    RP allows using myth/folklore to interpret nature

         a.      Night sky interpreted as a struggle of gods with human like emotions

18.    Allows personal association to interpret nature

         a.      “Storms of nature as having affinity with our own internal storms”

         b.      “Nature stillness as intensifying our potentiality for inner calm”


19.    How RP shows respect for nature and treats it in own terms:

         a.      Saito’s view of respectful aes app of nature on its own terms

                   i.       Provides a story that explains why it has the features it does

                   ii.      Acknowledging natural object as autonomous thing worthy of our focused attention is sufficient to treat it respectfully

                   iii.     We adopt a respectful stance as long as we make nature the focus of an account that explains its observable features

                            (1)    This treats nature on own terms

                   iv.     “Attempt to explain or make sense of observable features of specific natural objects”

         b.      Example:

                   i.        If our account of a storms rage in terms of our emotional upheaval provides an explanation for particular way it is

                   ii.      “Lightening coming from (or reflecting?) our sudden rage, billowing clouds from our clouded emotions, buffeting winds driven by conflict desires we feel

         c.      Why would not Saito’s criterion of “providing a story that explains why it has the features it has” allow in the breast example (see below)?

         d.      Hepburn: “Not inappropriate to inwardly appropriate forms of nature to our own feelings and inner states, provided that they sharpen our perception and relate to fundamental features of lived human state and provided we are aware we are projecting our feelings onto nature.”

20.    Parsons’ interpretation of RP conception of respectful/disrespectful app of nature

         a.      Serious appreciation is okay (can’t be foolish, goofy)

                   i.       Can’t lack seriousness and be simply amusing and juvenile (2 mtns look like breasts)

                   ii.      Do not use nature merely as stimulus for easy enjoyment

         b.      Can’t app using unimaginative and meaningless cliche

                   i.       Example: Distant rock in storm is like a haunted castle or that shooting star was sent by my lover

         c.      Okay if use what nature has to offer as stimulus for self-reflection

                   i.       Employ nature’s complexity to explore our inner lives in a self conscious way

21.    Robust pluralism is not PM as it rejects anything goes


22.    Both Moderate and Robust pluralism (like moderate) is egalitarian among appro app

         a.      All of the appro ways to app nature equally good

         b.      None are more appropriate: Science, arousal, formalism, culture/myth, personal association

         c.      Note one could have a pluralism that allowed for better and worse among appro ways to app nature; as well as some totally inappropriate


23.    Attractions of pluralism

         a.      Freedom: Aes app of nature has great deal of freedom

                   i.       Possibility of bringing all sorts of ideas/associations to bear in app nature is one of main attractions of nature as aes object

         b.      Personal significance: improved understanding of inner lives

                   i.       Aes app of nature provides way to better understand our inner lives

                   ii.      Clearly art does this and so does nature



25.    Science approach shows greater respect for nature than others

         a.      Robust pluralism claim that all these accounts equally show respect for nature is not plausible, for science approach shows greater respect

         b.      Even if making nature subject of fictional account shows some amount of respect for nature

         c.      We show it more respect when subject it to a true account of its origin

                   i.       Employing a thought component that truly characterizes it is to further acknowledge it as an autonomous thing worthy of our focused attention

                   ii.      Giving the natural object itself greater attention when appreciate it using thoughts about its real nature


26.    Moderate pluralism also mistaken in its equality claim for science account show greater respect nature than does a formalist or arousal account

27.    Worry: Argument on p. 79 claims that an approach which includes not just formalism and arousal, but also science accords them greater respect

         a.      So its not a vindication of science alone but of a full appreciation that includes science

         b.      I guess I do think that merely a formal or merely an arousal approach respects nature less then a merely science approach

         c.      Still app of nature that encompasses all these seems even better


28.    Moderate pluralism also implausibly holds that formal and emotional arousal is just as good/deep as science/art history appreciation of nature/art

         a.      Childlike wonder at stars or childlike naive appreciation of artwork/music not just as deep as nature or art critics response


29.    Parsons accepts moderate pluralism’s claim that appro aes app involves formal and being moved by nature, but rejects what he takes to be heart of pluralism, that these are all equally good



31.    According to PM inappro to

         a.      Think of set of mtn peaks as gigantic breasts

         b.      May be amusing and lend the peaks a certain visual interest but it hardly seems as serious an effort at aes app as app them in light of geological fact or ancient native legend

         c.      Seems like he’s got a more or less here

         d.      Using serious/less serious but why is less serious inappropriate

         e.      Why is the contrast here science rather than other types of personal associations he should allow in


32.    If pluralism gives up equality claim and allows that science based is more appropriate, then its not much of a pluralism as it makes these other approaches “poor cousins” to the science approach