Behavioral Functions of Aesthetics: Science and Art, Reason, and Emotion

The Psychological Record 68 (1) (2019)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
In his landmark article for this journal, Francis Mechner (2018) presents a novel analysis of the confluence of unique combinations of variables accounting for aesthetic experiences, a phenomenon he calls synergetics. He proposes that artists, musicians, and writers use novel devices to capitalize on those effects. In my response to Mechner's fascinating article, I question the generality of such synergetic experiences to a wide array of audience members. I also question whether the evolutionary basis for aesthetic creativity accounts for the ubiquity of aesthetic activity, as Mechner suggests. I do share Mechner’s emphasis on the importance of culturally nesting aesthetic contributions. But I suggest understanding aesthetic activities across cultures and subcultures requires additional mechanisms serving important bridging functions. I explore dispositional analysis, drawing on both Wittgenstein’s aesthetic language games and derived stimulus relationships. The behavioral functions of aesthetic experiences are those playing roles in cultural contingencies: motivational events, antecedent stimulus events, and consequences of aesthetic activities. Two kinds of aesthetic responses are discussed: 1) aesthetic creative responses by artists, writers or musicians, and 2) responses of audience members to those creations. These resulting aesthetic stimuli may play critical roles in cultural metacontingencies.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2019-08-09
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
151 ( #37,073 of 2,454,407 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
24 ( #28,369 of 2,454,407 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.