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response that takes the arbor as its particular object and responds to it with a feeling
of repose and homeyness, focusing on such features as its enclosure and softness,
which features are appropriate to the feeling of solace and homeyness.
Our feeling is not a matter of residual mysticism or religious sentiment, but is
perhaps instinctually grounded. Moreover, if such a scenario is plausible for at least
some of our emotional responses to nature, then it is not the case that being
aroused by nature is always a repressed religious response. Some responses of some
observers may be responses rooted in associations of nature with the handiwork of
the gods. But other emotional responses, appropriate ones, may have perfectly sec-
ular, naturalistic explanations that derive from the kinds of insights that Appleton
and others have begun to enumerate.
Admitting that our emotional responses to nature have naturalistic explana-
tions, of course, does not entail a reversion to the natural environmental model of
nature appreciation. For such explanations pertain to how our emotional
responses may be caused.And when I appreciate a natural expanse by being emo-
tionally aroused by it, the object of my emotional state need not be the recogni-
tion of my instinctual response to, for example, prospects. Perhaps one could
appreciate nature à la Carlson from an evolutionary point-of-view in which the
focus of our attention is the interaction of our emotions with the environment as
that interaction is understood to be shaped by the forces of evolution. But this is
not typically what one has in mind with the notion of being moved by nature.
In conclusion: to be moved by nature is to respond to the features of natural
expanses “ such as scale and texture “ with the appropriate emotions.This is one
traditional way of appreciating nature. It need not rely upon natural history nor is
it a residual form of mysticism. It is one of our characteristic forms of nature
appreciation “ not reducible without remainder to either science nor religion.




EMOTION, APPRECIATION, NAT U R E
AND


I . I N T RO D U C T I O N

In a previous essay entitled “On Being Moved by Nature: Between Religion and
Natural History,” I defended a view of nature appreciation that I called the arousal
model.1 According to the arousal model, one very customary appreciative response to
nature is a matter of reacting to it with the appropriate emotions “ for example, gaz-
ing over a broad expanse of open prairie and becoming possessed by a feeling of
serenity. An afternoon drive in the country is often undertaken in anticipation of
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such experiences.And, indeed, people are frequently willing to travel rather far afield
to savor emotionally compelling natural vistas like the Grand Canyon.
In characterizing the arousal model of our response to nature, I did not think
that I had discovered some heretofore unrecognized form of nature appreciation.
Rather, I took myself to be reporting a common form of intercourse with nature.
My point in doing so, however, was motivated theoretically. I intended the arousal
model to stand in contrast to the formidable account of nature appreciation that
has been developed by Allen Carlson.
Carlson™s position “ which may be called “the natural environmental model” “
maintains that the appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature depends upon
knowledge of nature of the sort supplied by natural history and science, or by
their commonsense or folk predecessors.2 Nature appreciation is a matter of
understanding the ecological and evolutionary significance of natural phenom-
ena. For example, in order to appreciate the contours of a stretch of farmland,
Carlson suggests we should understand the purposes of large-scale agriculture.3
The ideal nature appreciator for Carlson, it seems to me, is a naturalist “ someone
who contemplates nature in light of scientific concepts and laws and whose pro-
ject is to render nature intelligible.The motive for looking toward nature is scien-
tific curiosity and the pleasure to be had from nature on this view, in short, is the
pleasure of scientific understanding.
Unlike Stan Godlovitch, I see no reason to deny that the sort of attitude
toward nature “ that Carlson depicts so masterfully “ should be called nature
appreciation.4 However, pace Carlson, I would argue that it is not the only form
that appropriate appreciative responses to nature may take. Being moved by
nature, where our emotional response to nature need not depend upon knowl-
edge of scientific concepts and laws, is also a readily available and perfectly
respectable form for the appreciative response to nature to assume.Thus, if we are
looking for a comprehensive account of nature of appreciation, I argue that Carl-
son™s natural environmental model must be supplemented, at the very least, by the
arousal model.
Perhaps predictably, Professor Carlson does not agree.As a result, he has issued
a characteristically thoughtful, ingenious, and rigorous response to the claims that
I have made in behalf of the arousal model.5 He has suggested that either the
arousal model is not a proper form of nature appreciation at all, or that, if it is,
whatever it has to say can, for the most part, be accommodated by the natural
environmental model (i.e., the arousal model is not really a significant rival to the
natural envionmental model).
Needless to say, I am not convinced by these conclusions. However, since
addressing them will “ I think “ contribute to our understanding of the nature of
appreciation, I believe that it is worth addressing them in some detail. Thus, in
what follows, I will first deal with the question of the relation of emotional arousal
to appreciation and then go on to challenge Carlson™s attempted dissolution of the
difference between the arousal model and the natural environmental model.
Finally, I will draw attention to what I think are some mistaken suggestions that
386 ALTERNATIVE TOPICS

Carlson makes about Kant for the purpose of showing that Carlson not only still
has to contend with the arousal model, but with the Critique of Judgment as well.

I I . E M O T I O N A N D A P P R E C I AT I O N

Carlson™s first line of attack on the arousal model is to wonder whether it is really
a form of appreciation at all. For if it is not really a form of appreciation, then it is
not an available form of nature appreciation, and, therefore, not really either a rival
or a supplement to the natural environmental model. Carlson is careful to note
that he is not disputing the claims of the arousal model to characterize an aesthetic
response to nature “ he puts the contested meaning of that thorny concept to one
side. Rather, he is arguing that being moved by nature is not any form of apprecia-
tion “ aesthetic (whatever that might be) or otherwise.
This allegation, of course, depends upon one™s conception of what is involved
in the appreciation of something. Carlson follows Paul Ziff in this matter. On
Ziff ™s view, outlined in his book Semantic Analysis, appreciation is essentially a cog-
nitive affair.6 It involves “sizing up” a situation.
Ziff claims etymological precedence for this view. An appreciation of a chess
game, for example, is an account of the moves in a chess game with an eye to strat-
egy. It is a characterization of how certain moves functioned to contribute to the
victory of one player and the defeat of the other.
Similarly, in the military, an appreciation of a battle comprises a recounting of
the relevant maneuvers, accompanied with explanations of why they failed or suc-
ceeded. In order to deliver an appreciation in this sense, one need not bear any
affection or antipathy toward either the winners or the losers. One need not be a
war lover or a war hater. An appreciation is an assessment of moves and conse-
quences. It can be delivered dispassionately. Mr. Spock could do it.
Whereas we often tend to conflate the notion of appreciation with notions of
“liking” or of “gratitude,” the core of the concept, according to Ziff, is starkly cog-
nitive, involved in sizing up a situation, a game, an artwork, and so on “ that is, in
comprehending their internal interrelations and external relations in terms of
their significance (in terms of their implications, consequences, presuppositions,
and so on).
This is not to deny that appreciation is connected to evaluation. Rather, it is
connected to evaluation by way of providing grounds for it. Likewise, appreciation
in this sense is related to gratitude (“I appreciate what you™ve done”) and liking
(“After a hard day, I appreciate nothing more than listening to music”) because an
appreciation of how something came about or how it works supplies us with rea-
sons to admire the state of affairs or the object in question.
Ziff, quite rightly in my opinion, has maintained that aestheticians too often
overlook the core or fundamental component of appreciation “ its involvement
with the essentially cognitive activity of sizing things up. Aestheticians fre-
quently think of appreciation merely in terms of affection, which quickly
embroils them in debates about whether or not appreciation is anything more
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than purely subjective. Ziff ™s conception of appreciation is surely a healthy cor-
rective in this regard.
Summarizing Ziff, Carlson contends that appreciation, properly so called, has
two components: a primary component that is involved in the cognitive activity
of sizing something up, and a secondary component that is an appropriate affec-
tive response, such as gratitude or liking and so on.This secondary response is not
a sufficient condition for appreciation. Indeed, it is not weightiest of the two com-
ponents. In fact, I wonder whether Carlson even thinks that it is a necessary con-
dition for appreciation. But, be that as it may, Carlson certainly thinks that the
affective response component is not sufficient for appreciation, and that this is
enough for his argument against the arousal model of nature of appreciation.
Basically Carlson argues that an emotional response to nature only involves the
secondary component of appreciation, not the primary component. It is an affective
response, not sufficiently involved with the cognitive activity of sizing up to count as
a full-fledged instance of appreciation. Or, if it does involve sizing up in the relevant
sense, it will be involved with scientific concepts of the sort the natural environmen-
tal model pinpoints. So there will be no significant difference between the arousal
model and the natural environmental model. Let me take on the first horn of this
dilemma in this section and look at the second horn in the next section.
The arousal model maintains that emotionally responding to nature can be an
appropriate form of nature appreciation. Carlson, resting on the authority of Ziff,
maintains that an affective response is not “ analytically speaking “ enough for
appreciation properly so called. One response to this argument would, of course,
be to reject Ziff ™s analysis of appreciation. However, I share Carlson™s admiration
of Ziff ™s insights.7
Nevertheless, I do think that Carlson has misapplied Ziff ™s analysis of appreci-
ation to the arousal model. For Ziff and Carlson, the cognitive activity of sizing up
is the real essence or crux of appreciation; the so-called affective response is
secondary. Thus, according to Carlson, arousal does not add up to appreciation.
But I think that this conclusion is wrong for the simple reason that Carlson has
misconstrued the nature of the emotional response to nature “ indeed, perhaps his
idea of an emotional response in general is ill conceived.
Carlson, of course, acknowledges that an emotion may involve a cognitive
dimension. My fear of a snake, for example, rides on my belief that the snake is
dangerous. Carlson admits this much. However, what he fails to note is that emo-
tions are also intimately involved in sizing up situations. Our emotions guide
attention and shape perception. They organize information for us. They are bio-
logically rooted devices that enable us to navigate our way through situations and
filter incoming stimuli.
Emotion and attention are interrelated in a number of ways.At first, our atten-
tion may be drawn to certain aspects of a situation “ say, for example, certain
threatening aspects.This moves us into an emotional state of fear, or perhaps it is
our emotional state of fear that first alerts us to these aspects. However, once in
that state the presiding emotion supplies feedback to our processes of attention.
388 ALTERNATIVE TOPICS

Once alerted to the harmful aspects of a situation, our fear will impel us to search
the situation “ to scan the scene “ for further evidence of harmfulness.
The emotions focus our attention. They make certain features of the situation
salient, and they cast those features in a special phenomenological light.The emotions
“gestalt” situations.They organize them.They make certain elements of a situation
stand out.The emotions are sensitive to certain aspects of various recurring situations,
like danger, and they size up and organize situations rapidly. From an evolutionary
point of view, the emotions are very expeditious adaptations in this regard, since they
are far faster than other response procedures like deliberation.The emotions hold our
attention on the relevant features of a situation, often compelling us to pick out fur-
ther aspects of the situation under the criteria (such as harmfulness) that define the
emotional state in which we find ourselves. For example, we first detect the automo-
bile hurtling at us and then our fear further apprizes us of its lethal velocity and the
absence of any accessible escape routes. Our emotions filter the situation and struc-
ture it.We do not attend to the color of the car, but to its direction.
Thus, the emotions are not alien to the cognitive activity of sizing up. Indeed,
the emotions are biologically fast mechanisms that very frequently serve exactly
the purpose of sizing up a situation.Therefore, there is no reason to think that an
emotional response must necessarily fall short of appreciation properly so called,
for there is no reason to suppose that an emotional response is bereft of the activ-
ity Carlson calls sizing up. Perhaps it might even be argued that the sizing up func-
tion of emotional response is, from an evolutionary viewpoint, more central to
what an emotional state is than are the bodily and phenomenological perturba-
tions that standardly accompany emotional states.
The sizing-up function of emotion is relevant to any discussion of what is
called aesthetic appreciation. Recognition of the sizing-up function of emotion
reveals why an emotional response to a work of art, for example, can be an appre-
ciative response. But it is also germane to nature appreciation. Struck by the sheer
scale of Mt. Cook, I am enthralled. Its grandeur takes my breath away. My emo-
tional state guides my perception and my thinking. I look to the majestic outline
it cuts against the sky; I imagine its great weight; I attend to the vast shadow it
casts behind me; it prompts me to notice how small great trees seem next to it; and
so on. My emotional response unifies my cognitive and perceptual reaction to the
scene. I pick out details of the scene (such as size relations) relative to my presid-
ing feeling of grandeur. Not everything in the scene is pertinent to this state “ the
discarded candy wrapper to my left is not. My attention is selective and organized.
If this does not count as sizing up the scene, then the cognitive activity of sizing
things up is more mysterious than I took it to be.
Inasmuch as the cognitive component of appreciation can be easily realized by
an emotional response, there is no reason to suspect that the arousal model does
not characterize an appropriate form of nature appreciation. Carlson™s error, it
seems to me, involves too sharp a cleavage between what he regards as the primary
component of appreciation (cognitive sizing up) and the secondary component
(an affective response). Perhaps some affective responses “ like gratitude “ can be
EMOTION, APPRECIATION, NATURE 389
AND


clearly distinguished from sizing up; I have no considered opinion on that matter
now. However, it is also the case that some affective responses “ some emotional
responses “ are full-blooded instances of sizing up, and, therefore, are not, in prin-
ciple, detachable from Carlson™s primary component of appreciation. In such
cases, an emotional response to nature just is an occasion of nature appreciation
properly so called. Thus, the arousal model does pertain to an authentic form of
nature appreciation, despite Carlson™s savvy argument to the contrary.
Carlson™s argument appears to work only if we take his second component of
appreciation to encompass all affective responses. This may rely upon too neat a
distinction between cognition and emotion. But this is an antithesis that we have
learned to distrust in discussions of the emotions in the philosophy of mind and I
see no profit in rejuvenating it in discussions of aesthetics. Cognition and emotion
are not always discrete. In standard cases, the processes that we perhaps inade-
quately attempt to capture by these labels are generally reciprocal and interacting.
There is no reason to suppose that typically the sizing-up activity that Carlson
emphasizes and the affective response are separate either temporally or analyti-
cally. Indeed, in the standard case of emotional involvement, they are very fre-
quently coeval and mutually informing. This is not to deny that there might be
cognitive states without emotional involvement, nor that there might be affective
states (like the startle response) that are cognitively impenetrable. But, at the same
time, there are emotional processes that are inextricably imbricated in the activity
of sizing up situations and objects, and scenes, natural and/or dramatic. Some of
our appreciations of nature are like this. And that is what the arousal model was
designed to acknowledge.
I have tried to dispel the first horn of Carlson™s dilemma by arguing that an
emotional response to nature has the credentials that he requires for appreciation
properly so called. I have also worried that Carlson may be relying on too implau-
sible a dichotomy between cognition and emotion. Carlson, however, may deny
this, since he agrees that emotions have cognitive components such as beliefs.Yet
what he has failed to notice is that emotions are not only cognitive with respect to
their possession of such cognitive components as beliefs, but also in virtue of their
performance of cognitive functions like sizing up.

I I I . D I S S O LV I N G T H E D I F F E R E N C E ?

Though Carlson does not appear to agree that emotions size things up, he does

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