The Aesthetic Brain takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey addressing fundamental questions about aesthetics and art. Using neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, Chatterjee shows how beauty, pleasure, and art are grounded biologically, and offers explanations for why beauty, pleasure, and art exist at all.
The Aesthetic Animal answers the ultimate questions of why we adorn ourselves, embellish our things and surroundings, and produce art, music, song dance, and fiction. Humans are aesthetic animals that spend vast amounts of time and resources on seemingly useless aesthetic activities. However, nature would not allow a species to waste precious time and effort on activities completely unrelated to survival, reproduction, and the well-being of that species. Consequently, the aesthetic impulse must have some important biological functions. A number of observations indicate that the aesthetic impulse is an inherent part of human nature, and therefore a primary impulse in its own right with several important functions: The aesthetic impulse may guide us toward what is biologically good for us, and help us choose the right fitness enhancing items in our surroundings. It is a valid individual fitness indicator as well as a unifying social group marker, and aesthetically skilled individuals get more mating possibilities, higher status and more collaborative offers. The book is written in a lively and entertaining tone, with beautiful color illustrations. It covers a wide field of aesthetic behaviors from cave art, graffiti, tattoos, and piercings over fashion, design, music, song, and dance. It presents an original and comprehensive synthesis of the empirical field, synthesizing data from archeology, cave art, anthropology, biology, ethology, behavioral- and evolutionary psychology and neuro-aesthetics. It is a must-read for people interested in biology, psychology, anthropology, architecture, design, fashion, body culture, art, and the evolution of aesthetics.
The Arts and the Brain: Psychology and Physiology beyond Pleasure, Volume 237, combines the work of an excellent group of experts who explain evidence on the neural and biobehavioral science of the arts. Topics covered include the emergence of early art and the evolution of human culture, the interaction between cultural and biological evolutionary processes in generating artistic creation, the nature of the aesthetic experience of art, the arts as a multisensory experience, new insights from the neuroscience of dance, a systematic review of the biological impact of music, and more. Builds bridges and makes new connections between neuroscientists, psychologists and the arts world Unravels the neural, neuroendocrine, physiological, hormonal and evolutionary dimensions of the arts Contains chapters from true authorities in the field
Harry Francis Mallgrave combines a history of ideas about architectural experience with the latest insights from the fields of neuroscience, cognitive science and evolutionary biology to make a powerful argument about the nature and future of architectural design. Today, the sciences have granted us the tools to help us understand better than ever before the precise ways in which the built environment can affect the building user's individual experience. Through an understanding of these tools, architects should be able to become better designers, prioritizing the experience of space - the emotional and aesthetic responses, and the sense of homeostatic well-being, of those who will occupy any designed environment. In From Object to Experience, Mallgrave goes further, arguing that it should also be possible to build an effective new cultural ethos for architectural practice. Drawing upon a range of humanistic and biological sources, and emphasizing the far-reaching implications of new neuroscientific discoveries and models, this book brings up-to-date insights and theoretical clarity to a position that was once considered revolutionary but is fast becoming accepted in architecture.
The Aesthetic Mind breaks new ground in bringing together empirical sciences and philosophy to enhance our understanding of aesthetics and the experience of art. An eminent international team of experts presents new research in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and social anthropology: they explore the roles of emotion, imagination, empathy, and beauty in this realm of human experience, ranging over visual and literary art, music, and dance. Among the questions discussed are: Why do we engage with things aesthetically and why do we create art? Does art or aesthetic experience have a function or functions? Which characteristics distinguish aesthetic mental states? Which skills or abilities do we put to use when we engage aesthetically with an object and how does that compare with non-aesthetic experiences? What does our ability to create art and engage aesthetically with things tell us about what it is to be a human being? This ambitious and far-reaching volume is essential reading for anyone investigating the aesthetic and the artistic.
"Literature matters," says Paul B. Armstrong, "for what it reveals about human experience, and the very different perspective of neuroscience on how the brain works is part of that story." In How Literature Plays with the Brain, Armstrong examines the parallels between certain features of literary experience and functions of the brain. His central argument is that literature plays with the brain through experiences of harmony and dissonance which set in motion oppositions that are fundamental to the neurobiology of mental functioning. These oppositions negotiate basic tensions in the operation of the brain between the drive for pattern, synthesis, and constancy and the need for flexibility, adaptability, and openness to change. The challenge, Armstrong argues, is to account for the ability of readers to find incommensurable meanings in the same text, for example, or to take pleasure in art that is harmonious or dissonant, symmetrical or distorted, unified or discontinuous and disruptive. How Literature Plays with the Brain is the first book to use the resources of neuroscience and phenomenology to analyze aesthetic experience. For the neuroscientific community, the study suggests that different areas of research—the neurobiology of vision and reading, the brain-body interactions underlying emotions—may be connected to a variety of aesthetic and literary phenomena. For critics and students of literature, the study engages fundamental questions within the humanities: What is aesthetic experience? What happens when we read a literary work? How does the interpretation of literature relate to other ways of knowing? -- G. Gabrielle Starr, New York University
How can aesthetic enquiry contribute to the study of visual culture? There seems to be little doubt that aesthetic theory ought to be of interest to the study of visual culture. For one thing, aesthetic vocabulary has far from vanished from contemporary debates on the nature of our visual experiences and its various shapes, a fact especially pertinent where dissatisfaction with vulgar value relativism prevails. Besides, the very question—ubiquitous in the debates on visual culture—of what is natural and what is acquired in our visual experiences has been a topic in aesthetics at least since the Enlightenment. And last but not least, despite attempts to study visual culture without employing the concept of art, there is no prospect of this central subject of aesthetic theory ebbing away from visual studies. The essays compiled in this volume show a variety of points of intersection and involvement between aesthetics and visual studies; some consider the future of visual art, some the conditions and characteristics of contemporary visual aesthetic experience, while others take on the difficult question of the relation between visual representation and reality. What unites them is their authors’ willingness to think about contemporary visual culture in the conceptual frame of aesthetics. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of philosophical aesthetics, art history, and cultural studies.
The Aesthetic Impulse explains aesthetic as describing a significant area of the school curriculum that would include but not be confined to the creative arts. Organized into 10 chapters, this book begins with a discussion on arts education. Subsequent chapters explain art, sensibility, aesthetics, and the vernacular principle. The concept of arts education as cultural education, which means responding to the young's needs to generate individual and group identity, is also described. Other chapters explore the aesthetic curriculum and assessment of aesthetic development.
This book is not concerned with the use of Freudian concepts for the interpretation of literary and artistic works. Rather, it is concerned with why this interpretation plays such an important role in demonstrating the contemporary relevance of psychoanalytic concepts. In order for Freud to use the Oedipus complex as a means for the interpretation of texts, it was necessary first of all for a particular notion of Oedipus, belonging to the Romantic reinvention of Greek antiquity, to have produced a certain idea of the power of that thought which does not think, and the power of that speech which remains silent. From this it does not follow that the Freudian unconscious was already prefigured by the aesthetic unconscious. Freud's 'aesthetic' analyses reveal instead a tension between the two forms of unconscious. In this concise and brilliant text Rancière brings out this tension and shows us what is at stake in this confrontation.