Aesthetic properties in Allen Carlson’s theory for the appreciation of nature: Focusing on the functions of categories


In this paper I will present one interpretation of Allen Carlson’s theory for the aesthetic appreciation of nature. Carlson claims that we must know commonsense/scientific categories of nature for appropriate aesthetic appreciation of it. There are two intentions behind his statement: one is to make an objective theory for the judgment of nature and the other is to advocate for the assertions of environmentalists on pristine nature.
According to these intentions I think Carlson assigns two different roles to those categories, and consequently gives two different kinds of aesthetic properties for the same nature through those categories. First, those categories can function to determine the focus of aesthetic appreciation of nature. Here Carlson applies Kendall Walton’s theory of categories of artworks to aesthetic appreciation of nature. In this case categories reveal some aesthetic properties that depend on non-aesthetic (physical) properties of nature. Second, categories can function to show the position of objects in natural order. Through this function categories reveal aesthetic properties that objects can have in relation to natural order.
Finally I will point out the difference and similarity of those two aesthetic properties and show the limit of Carlson’s objectivist view.

Keywords: environmental aesthetics, Allen Carson, the natural environment model, positive aesthetics, aesthetic property