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Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain$
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Joseph P. Huston, Marcos Nadal, Francisco Mora, Luigi F. Agnati, and Camilo José Cela Conde

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199670000

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670000.001.0001

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Towards a Comparative Approach to Empirical Aesthetics

Towards a Comparative Approach to Empirical Aesthetics

(p.385) Chapter 20 Towards a Comparative Approach to Empirical Aesthetics
Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain

Gesche Westphal-Fitch

W. Tecumseh Fitch

Oxford University Press

Aesthetic proclivities should be studied across human cultures if shared building blocks of human aesthetic experience are to be described. Comparisons with animals are crucial to determine which elements of aesthetic experience are shared with other species and which evolved in humans. Abstract patterns have a special status in the evolution of human visual art, pre-dating representational art, and being less complicated by issues of symbolic meaning. Possible mechanisms by which abstract patterns emerged as aesthetic phenomena are discussed. Aesthetic-like phenomena in animals are studied. Perceptual abilities and the ecology/sociobiology of a species are crucial in the evolution of behaviours that have the potential for gaining aesthetic dimensions. Generative process underlying geometric patterns may be described with the same formalisms as musical and linguistic syntax, hence the production of visual patterns may depend on cognitive resources that also underlie the generation of complex hierarchical structures in music and language.

Keywords:   empirical aesthetics, symmetry, nest-building, patterns, abstract art, body ornament

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