Yuriko Saito, The Aesthetics of Unscenic Nature



2.      Critique of the bias toward pictorial, scenic landscapes

         a.      Show pieces, spectacular, grand

         b.      Entertainment by easy beauty

3.      The scenically-challenged rest of nature

         a.      Boring/tedious

         b.      Plains, bogs, wetlands, jungles, reptiles, insects

         c.      Subtle (modest, less aggressive) beauty

         d.      Beauty based on health and sustainability

4.      One argument for positive aes is that denial of positive aes may often be based on scenery cult and prejudice for easy beauty



6.      “Why can’t we just enjoy what appeals to us and forget boring landscapes and dead animals with putrid smells and maggots crawling all over them?”


7.      Cognitivist reply (Carlson)

         a.      If aes judgments are going to be true and avoid aesthetic omissions and aesthetic deceptions

         b.      Must interpret/app nature in correct sci categories

                   i.       Massive rat? When really a cute chipmunk

                   ii.      Awkward deer? When really a graceful moose

         c.      Must not interpret nature as a scenic, two dimensional design for this fails to appreciate it for what it is and leads to aes omissions and deceptions


8.      Saito thinks cog reply not work

         a.      Someone may not care about making true aes judgements

         b.      Deceptive/incorrect aes app may be more enjoyable

                   i.       Aes app a painting as a non-rep design may be more pleasant and avoid arduous task of determining its symbolic content

                   ii.      Oak tree may look more exciting and interesting when viewed as a maple tree

         c.      Is this Heyd’s position? Yes....


9.      Saito responds to: “Entertainment seekers who pursue any path to get aesthetic kicks, no matter how misguided”

         a.      Cognitive concerns don’t bother them

         b.      They don’t care how wrong they get it


10.    Saito’s moral argument against entertainment seekers, those who have no interest in trying to appreciate scenically challenged nature

11.    A refusal to experience art/nature on own terms

         a.      To put aside our own agenda

12.    Ought to approach aes object with due respect and give it a chance to tell its story

         a.      Our willingness to understand its origin, structure, function, shows we are willing to recognize its own reality

13.    Should not impose our own standard of aes value (e.g., pictorial coherence)

14.    Let nature speak in own terms (via science/natural history?)

15.    Should drop demand for easy beauty, for aes pleasure, and try to app unscenic nature

16.    Why? Because it is morally important not to treat nature solely as a visual resource for our enjoyment

         a.      Rolston: “Ought not to tour national parks for a view, as if nature that can’t serve us ought to at least please us”

17.    Respect for nature’s intrinsic value requires listening to its own story

         a.      And not treating it as a mere instrument to human pleasure.

18.    Ned is inclined to think this is not only a moral argument but also an aes argument

19.    Summary: Why appreciate unscenic nature?

         a.      It is morally important to overcome perception of nature as a visual resource to be used for our enjoyment

         b.      Appreciation of nature should be intrinsic.


20.    Leopold’s instrumental moral argument

         a.      Should aes appreciate unscenic parts of nature for they are crucial to ecological sustainability and ignoring them for the scenic will have us not protect them

                   i.       E.g. Wetlands

         b.      Unscenic nature is necessary for the sustianability of the natural environment

         c.      Need refined taste in natural beauty and this is only possible with perception infused with science; can’t see this with untutored eye

         d.      Much damage inflicted on land is invisible to layman (who lacks the relevant knowledge)



22.    Example: Dead elk carcass with maggots?


23.    Rolston’s response:

         a.      View natural object in larger context and see role it plays in the drama of life struggle and sustenance of ecosystems

         b.      Look at is as part of a whole.


24.    Saito’s reply to Rolston’s response

         a.      One: Unclear what the aes object is suppose to be for Rolston?

                   i.       Entire ecosystem, rather than the individual carcass

                   ii.      The whole motion picture

                   iii.     Since ecosystems are tied into global ecosystem, is Rolston saying that the global ecosystem is only legitimate object of nature appreciation and not the individual pieces of nature?

         b.      Two: Even if we agree that the whole of which it is a part is beautiful, that doesn’t mean the part is

                   i.       Fallacy of division: (Parts must have properties of whole)

                   ii.      That a person is beautiful doesn’t mean every piece of him/her is

                   iii.     That a dog is fast doesn’t mean a dog’s tail is fast

25.    Cognitive information is relevant only when it is triggered by sensuous surface and is brought back to that surface to illuminate it

         a.      If beauty is cognitive beauty of the entire system (that devolves to the parts), then perception of the individual item seems irrelevant

         b.      Knowledge of whole has to be brought back and fused with perception of sensuous surface

                   i.       E.g., wiggling maggots as work crew doing the recycling work

         c.      Aes appreciation of nature as way nature tells its own story via sensory qualities.


26.    Considerations for positive aesthetics of nature

         a.      Art can be aesthetically negative because:

                   i.       Story might be told well, but morally repulsive story

                   ii.      Story poorly told

         b.      Nature can’t be aes negative in these ways

                   i.       Its amoral, can’t morally object to content of the story it tells

                   ii.      All of nature’s stories are interesting

                            (1)    Science reveals the marvelous world of all nature (105)

                            (2)    All equally fascinating (wilderness and back yard), though there are different degrees of nature’s skill in telling these stories

                                      (a)     Is this equal aesthetic value claim?



         a.      Saito’s answer is “No”



28.    One: Some aes app of nature is psychologically impossible


29.    Some things in nature are so annoying, repulsive, unattractive that we can’t bring ourselves to app the + aes value of their story

         a.      Cockroaches, mosquitos, snakes, slugs, sharks, lions, weeds

         b.      Eyesores, give me the creeps, pesky

         c.      Our negative reaction to them outweighs the + aes value of their life story


30.    Some things in nature are so threatening that we can’t aesthetically appreciate them

         a.      An avalanche as it sweeps you down the slope

         b.      A bear’s hot breath as it bites into your leg


31.    Negative reaction can perhaps be overcome by distancing ourselves, taking a contemplative attitude

32.    But distancing has aes costs

         a.      Miss sensory qualities

         b.      Aes exp of nature involves engagement and this is lost


33.    Two: Some aes app of nature is morally impermissible

34.    We ought not to appreciate natural disasters that cause harm to people

         a.      Such aes app is inappropriate