Chapter

The Origins of Aesthetics: A Neurobiological Basis for Affective Feelings and Aesthetics

Edmund T. Rolls

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/9780199691517.003.0009
The Origins of Aesthetics: A Neurobiological Basis for Affective Feelings and Aesthetics

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A theory of the origins of aesthetics is described. This has its roots in emotion, in which what is pleasant or unpleasant, a reward or punisher, is the result of an evolutionary process in which genes define the (pleasant or unpleasant) goals for action. It is argued that combinations of multiple such factors provide part of the basis for aesthetics. To this is added the operation of the reasoning, syntactic, brain system that evolved to help solve difficult, multistep, problems, and the use of which is encouraged by pleasant feelings when elegant, simple, and hence aesthetic solutions are found that are advantageous because they are parsimonious. The combination of these two systems, and the interactions between them, provide an approach to understanding aesthetics that is rooted in evolution and its effects on brain design and function.

Keywords: pleasant/unpleasant goals for action; emotion; brain design and function; evolution

Chapter.  24513 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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