How to Explain Pleasure

British Journal of Aesthetics 54 (4):477-481 (2014)
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Stephen Davies’ book The Artful Species is a nuanced and learned attempt to show how evolution does, and does not, account for the human capacity to produce and appreciate beautiful things. In this critical note, his approach to aesthetic pleasure is examined. Aesthetic pleasure, it is argued, is a state that encourages us to continue with our perceptual or intellectual engagement with something. Such pleasure displays a different profile from states that urge us to use an object to satisfy a need, and which terminate when that need has been met. Davies subsumes aesthetic pleasure to the latter kind of state. This is a mistake

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Mohan Matthen
University of Toronto, Mississauga


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