Enacting the aesthetic: A model for raw cognitive dynamics

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 21 (2):317-339 (2022)
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Abstract

One challenge faced by aesthetics is the development of an account able to trace out the continuities and discontinuities between general experience and aesthetic experiences. Regarding this issue, in this paper, I present an enactive model of some raw cognitive dynamics that might drive the progressive emergence of aesthetic experiences from the stream of general experience. The framework is based on specific aspects of John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy and embodied aesthetic theories, while also taking into account research in ecological psychology, cognitive sciences, and dynamic systems theory. The model focuses on dynamically relevant nodes at the pre-reflective and the reflective side of experience that would work as nested rhythmic constraints at different cognitive timescales with the potential to shunt experiences toward the aesthetic in everyday situations. My proposal constitutes a way to explore aesthetic experiences from an enactive perspective that regards them as transformative events in which cognitive processes entrain and are entrained by changes taking place in the environment, the brain, and the body.

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Carlos Vara Sánchez
Ca' Foscari University

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