Emily Brady, Chapter 5 of Aesthetics and the Natural Environment

The Integrated Aesthetic I:

 Multi-Sensuous Engagement and Disinterestedness


1.       Brady calls her view the “integrated aesthetic”

          a.       It draws on Kant and Ronald Hepburn’s views

2.       It involves

          a.       Multi-sensuous engagement

          b.       Disinterestedness (= DI)

          c.       Imagination

          d.       Emotion: “We can identify emotional responses and expressive qualities that are justifiable rather than mere subjective projection”

                    i.        Carroll has shown this

          e.       A (limited?) role for thought and knowledge

                    i.        Her view is non-cognitive like Kant’s

                    ii.       Like Kant allows indeterminate concepts and basic organizing concepts needed for exp the world

                    iii.      But unlike Kant sometimes okay to feed in background knowledge as well


3.       Besides integrating these 5 features it is also “integrated” because it

4.       Integrates subjective and objective components of aes experience

          a.       Involves a relationship between distinct appreciator and an environment which environs/surrounds the appreciator but is also acknowledged to be other than the appreciator

          b.       Not Berleant’s full-blown engagement where the appreciator becomes one with the environment and every aspect of one’s being would be part of appreciation

5.       Brady wants some objectivity and hence does not embrace all aspects of subject

          a.       DI filters out idiosyncratic features of appreciator

          b.       Aspects of appreciator not easily shared by others making aes judge of same object

                    i.        E.g., This beach is where you decided to get married?

          c.       Aes appreciation is a shared activity, rather than more private/personal activity of expressing preferences


6.       Perception essential for aes app

          a.       Aes app begins in perception

                    i.        Literature and story telling does not involve perception (the perception of letters/words involved is irrelevant to the aesthetic appreciation of the story)

          b.       Immediate, first-hand experience is the basis of all aes valuing of nature

                    i.        So I can’t aesthetically value the arctic national wildlife refuge because I’ve been there?

          c.       All senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching) both alone and in conjunction with other capacities (thoughts, imaginings and beliefs) enable perception of aes qualities


7.       Both subject and object determine the sensuous perspective

          a.       Subject: We can choose careful attention, or more cursory glance; we walk slowly through environments or experience them from a car window

          b.       Object: But envs and their objects significantly shape our perceptual perspectives:

                    i.        Env qualities can stop us in our tracks and demand our attention

                              (1)     Vivid color of sea, melodious song of a thrush, spectacular drama of thunder/lightening, inviting fragrance of jasmine, luxurious feel of cool sand underfoot

                              (2)     Many of our most highly valued nature exp involve little conscious choice but rather spontaneity

          c.       Some environments require more effort to appreciate them

                    i.        Character of natural object significantly determines how much perceptual effort is required.

                              (1)     Easy to appreciate beauty of grand landscape

                              (2)     More difficult to aes appreciate a “wasteland

                              (3)     Unscenic nature has aes value and perceiving it depends on effort of individual

8.       Brady’s norms of sensuous engagement

          a.       Unscenic nature requires more effort to aesthetically appreciate and presumably one ought to exert that effort and that nature repays the effort

          b.       “Nature calls for active perception and sensuous participation, not passivity and laziness

                    i.        Passive and lazy perception is worse as does not give nature her due

          c.       “Nature’s careful appreciation demands slow ambulation, rather than a fast cycle ride”

                    i.        “Though both perspectives offer legitimate appreciation”

                    ii.       Legitimate to appreciate nature carelessly (not carefully)?

          d.       Sensuous engagement can be thick or thin, depending on how many senses draw upon

                    i.        And thick is better than thin

          e.       Muti-sensuous perception of nature is better

                    i.        Like rest of our exp, aes experience dominated by most common senses (seeing and hearing)

                    ii.       Broader sensuous approach to environment (beyond vision) needed to do justice to nature’s dynamic qualities

                    iii.      “Without other three senses, appreciation fails to meet its full potential

                    iv.      Multi-sensuous perception “may lead to greater aes sensitivity and closer relationship with natural surroundings”

                    v.       E.g., consider looking at a lake versus swimming in it


9.       Sounds of nature

          a.       Nature’s tranquility (not silence, but natural sounds)

                    i.        May balk at intrusion of human noise upon it

                    ii.       Tranquility cited by visitors to natural areas as second most important aes feature they enjoy (scenic beauty first)

          b.       Birds (though beautiful close up) don’t significantly affect visual appearance of a landscape, whereas daily cycle of their sounds have powerful affect on soundscape–as do crickets and cicadas we seldom see (says John Fisher)

10.     Touch

          a.       A most intimate way to explore nature, least distance and most interactive sense

                    i.        Reach out to touch nature, it touches back

          b.       Touch invites bodily engagement

                    i.        Consider looking at a lake versus swimming through it

          c.       Examples: Wet moss, textures of tree bark, pine needles underfoot, sand, fur fish skin scales, cold water pebbles, rose pedal

                    i.        Pain, irritation, abrasion, lick, pat wipe fondle, knead, prickling, bruising, tingling, brushing, scratching, banging, fumbling, kissing, nudging

                    ii.       Squish of wet sand between toes

11.     Nature’s smell scape (olfactory aes judgments)

          a.       Distinctive environing quality

          b.       Contributes as much to aes character of environment as hearing/touching

          c.       Smells and tastes have been neglected (for bad reasons below)

                    i.        Prejudice against bodily qualities (versus those that are mental)

                    ii.       Smells seen as lacking features of other aes objects

                    iii.      Limited to mere sensation w/o reflective component,

                    iv.       No structure

                    v.       Not stable but of passing duration

          d.       Smells have duration, complexity, and structure

          e.       Have expressive properties and evoke associations from imagination and memory

          f.       Examples: wine-tasting, culinary arts, perfumery (“scenting our bodies each day”)

          g.       Often unaware of smells around us in nature; like sounds, constitute a sensuous backdrop app only when attend to them or impose themselves on us

                    i.        Fragrance of pine forest operates at a general level

                    ii.       More specific smells: moist smell of rotting log or putrid odor of animal carcass

12.     Tastes:

          a.       Gustatory experiences less common than olfactory in env. context

          b.       Drinking spring water on way up a mountains, tasting salt from sea air

          c.       Hiking to collect and eat dewberries or huckleberries, not merely instrumental or consumptive but appreciate gustatory qualities for themselves


13.     Sensuous Aes Appreciation Not Hedonistic

          a.       Not reducible to a search for pleasure

          b.       Feelings of enjoyment (or displeasure) accompany many of aes experiences

          c.       These feelings are other-directed–they closely related to qualities of the object