Art as a metaphor of the mind

This paper focuses on the emergent neo-Jamesian perspective concerning the phenomenology of art and aesthetic experience. Starting from the distinction between nucleus and fringe in the stream of thought described by William James, it can be argued that our appreciation of a work of art is guided by a vague and blurred perception of a much more powerful content, of which we are not fully aware. Accordingly, a work of art is seen as a kind of metaphor of our mental life, objectified to be able to reach out to a much larger audience. However, it is a “realistic” theory rooted in evolutionary psychology, which claims that our mind developed within a framework shaped by environmental pressures. The aesthetics illustrated by several novelists develops a paradigm for this theory. The search for the neuronal correlates of stream of consciousness allows to make a comparison with the recent findings of neuroaesthetics and to reject its claim that it is unnecessary to take phenomenology and psychology into account.
Keywords Art  Fringe  Nucleus  James  Neuroaesthetics
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-008-9091-5
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