Nicole Hall: "Aesthetic Experience and Cognitive Science”

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Nicole Hall, Institut Jean Nicod: "Aesthetic Experience and Cognitive Science”

Despite its rich, illustrious and controversial history, the idea of “aesthetic experience” has recently become the focus of philosophers interested in environmental aesthetics (Brady, Hepburn), aesthetics as a form of perception (Dokiz, Nanay, Schaeffer) and about which cognitive- and neuro- science can provide explanatory value. The aim of this paper is to reframe these latter positions in a more recent, non-standard, Kantian, “whole formalist” framework (Zuckert), combined with a Sibleyan approach to aesthetic properties, that will remind us of certain features of Kant’s aesthetic theory that seem otherwise to have been ignored. It will be argued that although the philosophy of perception, cognitive- and neuro- science can provide valuable and explanatory insights, they are prey to lapsing into either relativism about aesthetic experience or into the undesirable consequence of any experience being classed as aesthetic. I will pay particular attention to Dokiz’s recent paper on aesthetic experience as metacognitive feeling. The aim is to resist overly reductive accounts of aesthetic experience and remind ourselves of the importance of aesthetics itself as a sui generis discipline in addition to the importance cultural and social processes have in the shaping of experience.

Nicole Hall: