Neuroaesthetics as a Scientific Discipline

Martin Skov

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Neuroaesthetics is new scientific discipline. Bibliometric data shows that publications indexed as neuroaesthetics only started to appear in the 2000s. There was, however, a history of work trying to furnish aesthetics with a neuroscientific basis that preceded the emergence of neuroaesthetics by 200 years. This chapter tries to explain what motivated this ambition and traces various attempts, spanning the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, to develop a physiological aesthetics. Through analysis of this intellectual history, I show that the effort to establish a neuroscience of aesthetics was wholly predicated on ideas about human psychology that predated any empirical understanding of the human brain, including the belief that the human mind contains dedicated psychological mechanisms for eliciting aesthetic experiences. I give examples of the way physiological theories of aesthetics remained speculative until the appearance of non-invasive neuroimaging methods in the 1980s and 1990s. The ability to measure neural activity as humans engage in aesthetic acts ushered in neuroaesthetics as an experimental science. While this methodological development has allowed neuroaesthetics to explore problems of art experience and aesthetic liking in ways that were inconceivable to earlier scholars, I argued that the ideas and concepts pioneered by these predecessors have greatly influenced the work of neuroaesthetics as well.
TitelThe Routledge International Handbook of Neuroaesthetics
RedaktørerMartin Skov, Marcos Nadal
Antal sider28
ISBN (Trykt)9780367442743, 9781032348803
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781003008675
StatusUdgivet - 2023
NavnThe Routledge International Handbook Series

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 6 September 2022.