Malcolm Budd, from The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature

(selections on freedom and relativity in nature appreciation)


1.       Knowledge can transform aes exp of nature

          a.       The ticker the conception or deeper the understanding, the greater potential for transforming aes experience

          b.       More able to bring relevant thoughts, emotions and images to bear on one’s perception of nature

          c.       More varieties of aesthetic and emotional responses possible

2.       Budd’s examples p. 21

3.       Transformation that knowledge brings about need not intensify but can diminish aesthetic delight

          a.       Plant is poisonous or those things sticking out from turquoise sea anemone are tentacles that can poison fish and the greenish center is its mouth

          b.        But such knowledge still “enhances” aesthetic appreciation


4.       Knowledge of type/category of natural object might not enhance appreciation

          a.       Examples:

                    i.        Knowledge of how rainbow formed

                    ii.       Knowledge that water is H20 not help in appreciation dew, mist, rain

5.       When does knowledge not enhance appreciation?

          a.       When it fails to transform aes experience by permeating/informing perception so that what the object is perceived as is different

          b.       Such knowledge does not allow us to see rainbows or water differently than someone who lacks the knowledge

          c.       Fails to change the perceptual/imaginative content of experience


6.       Sometimes mistaken knowledge matters to aesthetic appreciation and sometimes not

          a.       Mis experience X as belonging to certain kind

          b.       No problem

                    i.        Just get the name wrong and have no other knowledge

                    ii.       Leads to no errors in perception

          c.       Even if get the specific kind wrong, can still properly aes appreciate it in more general terms

                    i.        Carroll: Think a whale is a fish (rather than a mammal) can still appreciate its size

          d.       But getting the kind wrong can lead to aesthetic responses that one would reject if one had the correct information

                    i.        Excitement at seeing what you though was a ivory-billed woodpecker (thought extinct) disappears when learn it was a pileated woodpecker


7.       Budd agrees should not appreciate nature as if it were art (but as nature)

8.       Believes that app natural objects as the kinds of things they are is problematic (unclear/indeterminate) because they fall under many different categories

          a.       More general (flower) and more specific (orchid)

          b.       With more or less deep understanding of their nature and function

                    i.        Flower or sexual organ of a plant

9.       Which concept (or concepts) disclose its true aesthetic qualities that reveal its true aesthetic value?

10.     Conflicting aes quality/value worry

          a.       Worry (or Budd’s assumption) is that these different categories will lead to it having different (non-combinable, conflicting, incompatible) aesthetic qualities and thus potentially different aesthetic value

11.     Examples of conflicting aesthetic qualities (and different aes value) depending on which category one perceives a natural object under?

          a.       Mushroom (big?), flower of the fungus (delicate), or sexual organ of the fungus (looks masculine, powerful)

          b.       Parsons: If see Venus fly trap as a plant its jaw like body will appear disturbing/ugly, but not so if see it as a carnivorous plant

          c.       Budd’s 124 Shetland pony or Clydesdale (more specific) versus more general – horse.

                    i.        As a horse a Shetland pony (Clydesdale) is cute, charming (majestic/lumbering), as a Shetland pony (Clydesdale) it is not (?)

          d.       Windfarm as part of humanized landscape or as part of wild nature?

                    i.        How you perceive it might greatly affect its aesthetic value

12.     Can avoid conflicting aesthetic qualities/value by adopting a category relative interpretation of nature’s aesthetic qualities and value

          a.       Because the judgments are relativized to a certain category

          b.       When seen in one category it has this aesthetic quality (and value), when seen in another category it has a different quality and value


13.     Is a category relative interpretation of nature’s aesthetic qualities and value a problem?

          a.       Carlson’s project is doomed:

                    i.        No one correct way to appreciate a natural object

          b.       Assessing the aesthetic value of a natural object or nature in general (like the claim of positive aesthetics) is problematic

                    i.        Is it dainty or majestic?

                              (1)     No answer, it depends?

          c.       Zangwill’s response: if they are all positive (beautiful) then this is not all that important.

          d.       For conservation purposes, need definitive answers to questions about what aesthetic qualities nature has and how much aesthetic value does it have.


14.     Two dimensions of category relative

          a.       (1) As above: aesthetic qualities/value object has depends upon which category you perceive it under

                    i.        And there are a variety of such categories that lead to different judgments of value and qualities

                    ii.       Budd/others made a case for this being a real issue

          b.       (2) One can aesthetically appreciate natural objects under any category one wants to (or are able to) and none are better or worse or more or less correct.

                    i.        Not been shown by Budd or anyone else.....

                    ii.       Categorize and appreciate an elephant as a bumble bee just as legitimate aesthetically as appreciating it as a mammal....


15.     Is the problem of multiple categories (and resulting potential for conflicting aesthetic properties) present in art?

          a.       Example

                    i.        A painting can be experienced as a Cezanne, a cubist work, a painting, an art object

                    ii.       This painting might be immature/mediocre when seen as a Cezanne, but brilliant or original as a painting

          b.       Walton’s acknowledgment (fn 24): A work is touching or serene seen in one correct category, while it does not seem so when perceived in another way that we do not want to rule as incorrect”

          c.       Is it as serious a problem in art (as with nature)?


16.     We have (almost?) complete freedom as to what and how to appreciate nature (or a natural object) while this is not true of art

17.     Aesthetic qualities and value of art work become evident when it is

          a.       Appreciated under the correct category

          b.       Under optimal conditions and

          c.       In the right manner/way by an (informed) appreciator

18.     For nature and natural objects, there are no optimal conditions or correct manner of appreciating that reveals its true aesthetic qualities

          a.       No proper level of observation

                    i.        Microscope or telescope

                              (1)     Grain of sand/ bit of water boring with naked eye, but exciting and much more aesthetic appeal with microscope

          b.       No proper conditions of observation (for a tree/mountain)

                    i.        Observers distance (how far away)

                    ii.       Point of view (in front or on the side)

                    iii.      Nature of the light (dark or light)

19.     Since appearance of natural objects vary under different conditions of observation which is the correct one?\

20.     Natural objects change and display different aesthetic qualities and value at different times

          a.       Don Crawford on Glenn Parson’s claim that Mt. Rundle is majestic

                    i.         Walter Phillips (1884-1963) was well known for painting it and other mountains of the Canadian Rockies. He is quoted as saying: "Mount Rundle is my bread and butter mountain. I never tire of painting it, for it is never the same. In deep shadow in the morning, it borrows a warm glow from the setting sun at the end of the day. Its colour runs the gamut from orange to cold blue-grey, with overtones of violet and intervals of green."

                        ii.        Parsons seems to be saying that no matter how Mt. Rundle may vary in appearance as the artist Phillips noted, it is nonetheless always majestic. Well, I have looked at many mountains under many conditions, and I have searched the Internet for photographs of Mt. Rundle and found quite a few showing it under different conditions [on my computer if there’s a way to project these]. I think Mt. Rundle appears majestic in some of them, but not in all. Sometimes it appears threatening, and I have a hard time saying that it is “threatening and majestic” or “majestically threatening” or “threateningly majestic.”

21.     Unlike scientific categories of nature, categories of art tell us what the appropriate manner of appreciation is

          a.       Artist designed it to be appreciated in a certain way

                    i.        Must we appreciate an art object as the artist intended to be properly appreciating it?


22.     Aesthetic appreciation of nature has a freedom denied to art appreciation

          a.       P. 108

          b.       No way of appreciating nature involves a misunderstanding

          c.       No focus is irrelevant

          d.       Is this the claim no better or worse ways of appreciating natural objects?


23.     Counter-examples to Budd’s (virtually) absolute freedom:

          a.       If fix on a type of object, then many ways of appreciating it are ruled out.

                    i.        Mountain with taste? From a car and not hiking?

                    ii.       Birds w/o binoculars?

                    iii.      No optimal conditions for natural objects?

                              (1)     Elk: healthy or sick?

                              (2)     Stars; clear night or cloudy?


24.     Chimerical quest: So search for a correct model of nature appreciation (answers to the what and how to appreciate nature questions) is a chimerical quest (absurd, impossible, illusory quest)

          a.       No such thing as the appropriate aes appreciation of nature


25.     Budd rejects the total view (p. 109)

          a.       Aes value of nature is a function of the totality of positive and negative aesthetic qualities it has.