Fitting Feelings and Elegant Proofs: On the Psychology of Aesthetic Evaluation in Mathematics

Philosophia Mathematica:nkx007 (2017)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT This paper explores the role of aesthetic judgements in mathematics by focussing on the relationship between the epistemic and aesthetic criteria employed in such judgements, and on the nature of the psychological experiences underpinning them. I claim that aesthetic judgements in mathematics are plausibly understood as expressions of what I will call ‘aesthetic-epistemic feelings’ that serve a genuine cognitive and epistemic function. I will then propose a naturalistic account of these feelings in terms of sub-personal processes of representing and assessing the relation between cognitive processes and certain properties of the stimuli at which they are directed.

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