Naturalizing aesthetics: art and the cognitive neuroscience of vision
Author: Seeley, William P
Source: Journal of Visual Art Practice, Volume 5, Number 3, 18 November 2006 , pp. 195-213(19)
Abstract:Recent advances in our understanding of the cognitive neuroscience of perception have encouraged cognitive scientists and scientifically minded philosophers to turn their attention towards art and the problems of philosophical aesthetics. This cognitive turn does not represent an entirely novel paradigm in the study of art. Alexander Baumgarten originally introduced the term aesthetics to refer to a science of perception. Artists' formal methods are a means to cull the structural features necessary for constructing clear perceptual representations from a dense flux of sensory information in conscious experience. Therefore he interpreted artists' formal methods as tools for studying the structure of perception, and art as a field whose interests overlapped with aesthetics. In what follows, I examine three approaches to cognitive science and aesthetics that rest on a tacit assumption of Baumgarten's program. I argue that, whereas this new research can explain how viewers perceptually recover the content of artworks, it does not explain what makes that content aesthetically interesting. Therefore, the challenge for cognitive science and aesthetics is to tie the perceptual practices of artists and viewers to their more narrowly construed aesthetic, or artistic, practices. What is needed to establish this link is an interpretation of Baumgarten's original definition of aesthetics that treats attention to the way the formal structure of an artwork works to perceptually convey its content as a source of aesthetic interest. Unfortunately this interpretation is not transparently established by explanations of the perceptual practices of artists and viewers. Therefore, I conclude that it remains an open question whether this research can contribute to philosophical aesthetics.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Columbia University.
Publication date: November 18, 2006
- The domain of visual art hosts a multitude of artistic forms and practices. The Journal of Visual Art Practice supports research across the entire range of this varied field. The journal engages with the progressive nature of the subject, reflecting upon the changing terrain of art in recent years.
- Editorial Board
- Information for Authors
- Subscribe to this Title
- ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites