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The Aesthetics of Natural Environments- Arnold Berleant Presentation by: Cody Shoemaker
Two Aesthetics or One? ART NATURE • Berleant questions whether we should appreciate art and nature in the same manner, or have different approaches for the two. • Supports that natural objects can have just as much aesthetic value as does a painting but we must be careful how we appreciate them. • In this essay, Berleant intends to suggest that nature appreciation is “no peripheral matter” and that it has great importance in the world of philosophy.
Traditional View of Aesthetic Appreciation- Disinterested • Originally, this idea was presented by Kant • This view requires the need to adopt a special attitude by setting aside personal interests of “sense or reason” in order to fully appreciate an object free of distractions. • By using borders in art we are able to grasp the object “in a single view”, and from here we can find its beauty. • “Self-sufficiency, completeness, and unity”
Problems with the Disinterested Theory • Berleant suggests that this theory is incapable of describing architecture (fine art) in a way in which we can fully appreciate it. • A building is not something that can be fully appreciated by looking at a still frame picture of it. • There is more to the building than its initial appearance. Exterior
Berleant’s Engagement • A building must be “moved through” and experienced first hand to appreciate it aesthetically. • We must engage ourselves with the object somehow. • Some think practical activities such as these may subtract from the level of aesthetic appreciation one may have, and strive for a separation between art and utility. • Berleant insists that engagement can only add to appreciation. He continues to further extend this idea throughout the reading. Interior
Further Problems of Disinterested Theory • Impossible to maintain a distinction between beauty and utility. • Form and function closely related. • “..stirring up somatic and affective responses, and engaging us in ways that are difficult to reconcile with the contemplative ideal.” • Greater problems arise when the traditional theory is applied to nature.
Traditional Theory and Nature • If we are to be disinterested in nature we might as well appreciate a landscape painting instead of the landscape itself. • Difficult to look at nature as a contemplative object because we are constantly surrounded by it and participate in it. Disinterested Engaged
Dualistic Compromise • Some choose to appreciate art based on the skill of the creator who made the art. • This is impossible in nature, so we have to appreciate the order by which natural forces have produced objects. This entails 2 separate aesthetics. • The theories so far are based on objectivity, but it is difficult to objectify nature.
All art seems to force engagement.. • Viewer’s participation is need to complete a work of art. • The objects of art are experienced when we are forced to contemplate the object. • Sculpture emits a vibe of “charmed space” which we feel when appreciating it. • History of modern art is a history of perception, not a history of objects. • Perception refers to a somatic engagement.
Possibly an account based on a split between nature and culture.. • The aim of this account may be to address the qualities and demands of the environment. • Hard sciences deal with nature, soft sciences deal with culture. • This seems implausible when viewing art because art is a product of culture yet it emulates the natural scientific model. • This view misrepresents nature. Nature can’t be separate from culture because there is no place that humans have not affected.
Nature as a Cultural Artifact • Our conception of nature changes based on our culture and the time in which we experience it. • People from the 1700’s had a different viewpoint on nature than we do today. • Hence, it is hard to say that the traditional aesthetic can encompass these large variety of viewpoints.
The Sublime • Kant suggested the sublime is one aspect of aesthetic appreciation in nature. Capacity of the natural world to exceed our powers of framing and control. • Entails continuity and engagement. • Kant says the sublime is grasped by reason and this is how we reach an aesthetic appreciation.
Aesthetics of Nature Applied to Art • Continuity and perceptual immersion occur in nature as well as in art. • Many artworks rely on the perceiver to evoke an emotion, which leads to an aesthetic appreciation. • Art and nature are experienced perceptually and appreciated aesthetically. • This view requires engagement.
The Beloved • Sexual intercourse can not be appreciated aesthetically from the disinterested standpoint. • “Value dwells on sensuous and other perceptual qualities of the situation.”
Conclusion • Nature and art are often fused and can be appreciated in the same manner. • Hence, a single aesthetic applies to nature and art because they are both cultural constructs. The are one in the same thing. • Engagement encompasses art and nature. Opens regions of experience.