This is an exciting era for experimental (or empirical) aesthetics. For the first time developments in cognitive neuroscience have made it possible to probe the brain for the mechanisms involved in the appreciation and creation of works of art. These are exciting times, too, for the theoretical (or philosophical). Indeed, prompted by the undeniable success — and promise — of cognitive neuroscience, one fundamental question in aesthetic theory is whether neuroscience possesses “the key to understand what art really is” (Ramachandran and Hirstein 1999: 17). In this article, based on a novel definition of art, I argue that although it is a cornerstone of aesthetics neuroscience does not hold the key to understanding what art really is. Moreover, I show that aesthetics is inescapably interdisciplinary. Finally, I show that so-called neuroaesthetics is both conceptually and empirically wrong.
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Federico Langer; Art Theory for (Neuro)Scientists: Bridging the Gap. Poetics Today 1 December 2016; 37 (4): 497–516. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-3638030
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