Aesthetics and cognitive science

Philosophy Compass 4 (5):715-733 (2009)
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Experiences of art involve exercise of ordinary cognitive and perceptual capacities but in unique ways. These two features of experiences of art imply the mutual importance of aesthetics and cognitive science. Cognitive science provides empirical and theoretical analysis of the relevant cognitive capacities. Aesthetics thus does well to incorporate cognitive scientific research. Aesthetics also offers philosophical analysis of the uniqueness of the experience of art. Thus, cognitive science does well to incorporate the explanations of aesthetics. This paper explores this general framework of expansionism : a research strategy that suggests that the explanatory goals and resources of both aesthetics and cognitive science should expand to include those of the other. Two relations are considered. First, what is the relation between aesthetics and more traditional cognitive science? Second, what is the relation between aesthetics and new developments in cognitive science that de-emphasize mental representation and emphasize body and action?
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