Cognitive Penetration and the Perception of Art (Winner of 2012 Dialectica Essay Prize)

Dialectica 68 (1):1-34 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


There are good, even if inconclusive, reasons to think that cognitive penetration of perception occurs: that cognitive states like belief causally affect, in a relatively direct way, the contents of perceptual experience. The supposed importance of – indeed as it is suggested here, what is definitive of – this possible phenomenon is that it would result in important epistemic and scientific consequences. One interesting and intuitive consequence entirely unremarked in the extant literature concerns the perception of art. Intuition has it that knowledge about art changes how one aesthetically evaluates artworks. A profound explanation of this intuitive fact is that perceptual experiences vary with artistic expertise. Cognitive penetration provides an explanatory mechanism for this latter effect. What one knows or otherwise thinks about art may affect, in one of two ways sketched below, how one perceives art. Differences in aesthetic evaluation may follow, either because high-level aesthetic properties can be perceptually represented or because they causally depend on low-level perceptible properties. All of this lends credence to the hypothesis that the expert better judges art because she better perceives art. And she better perceives art because she better knows art.

Similar books and articles

Cognitive Penetrability of Perception.Dustin Stokes - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (7):646-663.
The art of seeing: an interpretation of the aesthetic encounter.Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - 1990 - Los Angeles, Calif.: Getty Center for Education in the Arts. Edited by Rick Emery Robinson.
A Portrait of the Artist as an Aesthetic Expert.Christy Mag Uidhir & Cameron Buckner - 2014 - In Gregory Currie, Matthew Kieran & Aaron Meskin (eds.), Aesthetics and the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Practice makes perfect: the effect of dance training on the aesthetic judge.Barbara Montero - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (1):59-68.
Art, Self and Knowledge.Keith Lehrer - 2011 - , US: Oxford University Press.
Aesthetics.Harold Osborne - 1972 - London,: Oxford University Press.
Aesthetics and cognitive science.Dustin Stokes - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (5):715-733.
The artistic and the aesthetic.Graham McFee - 2005 - British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (4):368-387.
Ideas about art.Kathleen Kadon Desmond - 2011 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.


Added to PP

1,480 (#5,500)

6 months
87 (#28,763)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Dustin Stokes
University of Utah

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
The logic of scientific discovery.Karl Raimund Popper - 1934 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Hutchinson Publishing Group.

View all 73 references / Add more references