Robert Fudge, “Imagination and the Science-Based Aes Appreciation of Unscenic Nature”

JACC Sum 2001


1.       Combines Brady/Carlson

          a.       Brady’s imagination approach and Carlson’s sci approach not exclusive and can go together:

          b.       “imagination is most effective in helping us develop aes app of unscenic nature, when it employs and is guided by sci kn


2.       Aesthetic response to things (people, nature) important factor in how we treat them (and should treat them)

3.       Just as should look for the inner beauty of people, so should look for inner beauty of nature

          a.       Leopold: “In country, as in people, a plain exterior often conceals hidden riches” 276.


4.       Examples of unscenic nature (and nature many find aesthetically unappealing)

          a.       Slimy things, dirty things, cockroaches, slugs,

          b.       Dangerous, disgusting, revolting, and boring nature


5.       Scientific knowledge can help us aesthetically value unscenic nature

          a.       Bog stinks, but science teaches us how decaying plants return nutrients back to the soil and contribute to its health

                    i.        This helps us appreciate the bog aesthetically

          b.       Music structure analogy

                    i.        Just as appreciation of beauty of music is not simply due to sounds themselves but to their structure (which we can appreciate more fully by studying music), so science helps lead to aes appreciation of nature by teaching us about the systemic relations in nature

          c.       Sci know most aes relevant when helps situate objects in appropriate apprecaitive categories, helps reveal the systemic properties of natural systems, and helps us understand how nature’s parts fit into and contribute to persistence of these systems


6.       Which scientific knowledge is relevant?

          a.       Scientific knowledge is relevant to aes appreciation of nature

          b.       When it helps us perceive and take delight in a natural object’s properties that we would otherwise overlook


7.       Brady and Carroll’s objection that we can appreciate nature w/o scientific knowledge makes sense for scenic nature

          a.       Appreciate grandeur of Niagara falls w/o knowing how formed

          b.       But in absence of scenic properties, less clear what properties we may appreciate lacking a sci context.


8.       Fudge okay with rejecting positive aesthetics:

          a.       Some nature has net negative aes value

          b.       Despite role science plays in helping appreciate nature it may not be able to overcome aes displeasure caused by some parts of nature



10.     Aes experience involves delight and detachment (losing onself in contemplation of the object)

11.     Scientific appreciation is not aes when it does not involve delight and detachment:

          a.       Example: a scientific appreciation or understanding of how two chemicals join to form compound

12.     We value something scientifically because

          a.       It contributes to our knowledge

          b.       Or has instrumental value

13.     We value something aesthetically in virtue of the kind of experience perceiving or contemplating it brings us

14.     Fudge says simply reflecting on knowledge that glacial forces form some valleys does not enhance appreciation, must represent the action of the glacier carving the valley (and this requires im?)

15.     Scientific and aes appreciation often occur simultaneously

          a.       Scientists commonly take aes delight in contemplating the objects of their study

          b.       Says that Brady’s worry that sciences’ instrumental nature will get in way of aes delight is misguided as both can coexist.



17.     Why need science? Why not inform imagination some other way?

          a.       Because only science tells us about the object itself

18.     Brady’s exploratory and protective uses of imagination encourage us to see objects as they are not

          a.       This gives us impression that natural object are not worthy of aes admiration.

          b.       Seeing tree bark as skin of old man may lead to our noting ignored aes properties of tree, but may also mislead our app for wrinkled skin and tree bark are only incidentally related.

19.     Scientific knowledge plays important role in ensuring that imagination does not direct us away from natural objects’ aes properties