Art, the brain, and family resemblances: Some considerations on neuroaesthetics

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Abstract:

The project of neuroaesthetics could be interpreted as an attempt to identify a “neural essence” of art, i.e., a set of necessary and sufficient conditions formulated in the language of neuroscience, which define the concept art . Some proposals developed within this field can be read in this way. I shall argue that such attempts do not succeed in individuating a neural definition of art. Of course, the fact that the proposals available for defining art in neural terms do not work does not mean that such an enterprise is in principle doomed to failure. However, I maintain that there are good reasons to suspect that in general such a definition cannot be worked out. This does not mean, though, that the study of neural correlates in artwork production and fruition is a senseless project. Neuroaesthetics could succeed in individuating widespread mechanisms common to different forms of art coming from remote cultural contexts, which presumably rely on aspects of our mind and/or brain's functioning that are innate and biologically determined, thus contrasting the idea that artistic phenomena are entirely dependent on cultural factors.

Keywords: Art and Mind; Essence of Art; Neuroaesthetics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2011.562643

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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