Feeling, meaning, and intentionality—a critique of the neuroaesthetics of beauty

This article addresses the phenomenology of aesthetic experience. It first, critically, considers one of the most influential approaches to the psychophysics of aesthetic perception, viz. neuroaesthetics. Hereafter, it outlines constitutive tenets of aesthetic perception in terms of a particular intentional relation to the object. The argument comes in three steps. First, I show the inadequacies of the neuroaesthetics of beauty in general and Semir Zeki’s and V.J. Ramachandran’s versions of it in particular. The neuroaesthetics of beauty falls short, because it develops hypotheses of aesthetic experience which have no consequences for the understanding of what art is, that is, how artists produce visual meaning effects in their works. This is so because they make the rewarding feeling of beauty the cornerstone of aesthetic experience. Next, I show why and how aesthetic experience should be defined relative to its object and the tools for meaning-making specific to that object, and not relative to the feeling (of beauty) it may elicit. Finally, I sketch the import this fact may have on a research program in empirical aesthetics.
Keywords Neuroaesthetics  Beauty  Intentionality  Meaning-making  Empirical aesthetics
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-014-9351-5
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Action in Perception.Alva Noë - 2005 - MIT Press.
Cognition and Categorization.Eleanor Rosch & Barbara Lloyd (eds.) - 1978 - Lawrence Elbaum Associates.

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