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Art, Nature, Meaning


Speaker: David Schwartz, University of New Mexico

When: Oct 27, 2017 - 03:30pm - 05:30pm

Where: Mitchell Hall, Room 102



Abstract: One of the most engaging questions within contemporary aesthetics of nature is the extent to which natural science informs, or ought to inform, aesthetic judgments of nature.  The most influential position in this debate is Allen Carlson’s cognitive, natural-science model of aesthetic appreciation.  Carlson argues that knowledge from the natural sciences plays a role analogous to that of art history in our experience of art --  supplying categories for properly ‘calibrating’ one’s sensory experience.  In this paper, I argue that Carlson's analogy ignores a second – and often more important -- role played by art history over the last century, which is providing the context needed for interpretations of meaning.  The paper explores whether knowledge from natural sciences can inform our aesthetic experience of nature in this second sense.  Can natural science facilitate interpretations of meaning from our aesthetic experience of nature?