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2008.09.25

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Teresa Gilman

OK, Jarrett, now I'm going to grab the nearest dog and go out bracken sighting this weekend. I'll let you know how it's dying here, and the colors. But if you're going to get all existential on us, go read some Nathalie Angier, and she'll stir up your wondering about beauty at all, and why, and why not.

Your photos are lovely.

Teresa

Peter

Beautiful post.

I know nothing about dying bracken, but there's nothing around here that looks that white dead, unless it died by fire.

Philip Gleeson

I'm not sure that you really understand what aggravates me. I simply reject that there are scientific theories that are distinct from aesthetic theories. There are only truth claims, statements that claim to represent a reality about the world. There is nothing wrong with making a claim that bracken might be white to look good against the orange soil. However, to do so, you must then posit a being or process that is doing the choosing and has aesthetic opinions. If you wish to infer an intelligent designer then that is your prerogative, but that leaves a lot more unexplained than it purports to answer.

I think the question about beauty is a far more interesting one, and one that has occupied many minds. The important point to note, as you have, is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the question is really why do we find nature beautiful, rather than why is nature beautiful. It's easy to find evolutionary explanations for why we find particular faces or bodies beautiful. Is our appreciation of the beauty of nature just an extension of that process or something different?

Jarrett


Teresa and Peter. Thanks for these comments. I look forward to further reports from the field.

Phil. Exactly. We don't disagree at all, except on the matter of truth claims. All sentences beginning "I might speculate ..." are trivially true, and this truth is obviously not the point. The purpose of such statements is to conjure the imagination rather than assert a claim about the world.

Dave

Bracken here turns pale yellow at first, then brown. Nothing like in these striking photos of yours.

Ms. P

Lovely post, and delightful blog. (Found you through pronoia)

Teresa Gilman

[sigh!] I've yet to find the dying bracken, though I've gone out twice with that intent. It's either that I've got distracted by the more vivid colors now present [see my latest post] or else there is no bracken where I've gone.

But, good scientist that I am, I won't give up.

T.

Jarrett


Thanks, Teresa! If you didn't notice the dead bracken, it probably wasn't that interesting. I've since looked at dead bracken in Australia, and it's brown as well. The silver-white quality of New Caledonian death remains a mystery and a fascination.

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