Chapter

Emotion and Aesthetic Value

Jesse Prinz

in The Aesthetic Mind

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691517
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731815 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691517.003.0006
Emotion and Aesthetic Value

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What happens in the mind when we judge that an artwork is good? A growing body of evidence from neuroscience and psychology suggests that such appraisals have an emotional basis. To judge an artwork as good is to have a positive emotional response towards it. Against this, one might object that some good works evoke negative emotions or lack emotional content entirely. To address this worry, we must distinguish two stages of appraisal: a response stage in which the work is perceived, analyzed, and affectively experienced, and an assessment stage in which these responses are used to decide whether the work is good. A positive emotion underwrites positive assessment. But which emotion? There are a number of competing candidates (pleasure, admiration, interest, etc.), but here a case is made for the conclusion that positive appraisal is experienced as wonder, a basic emotion that has been neglected in recent research.

Keywords: positive and negative emotional response; appraisal (stages of); wonder

Chapter.  9604 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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