‘I'll Be Your Mirror’? Embodied Agency, Dance, and Neuroscience

David Davies

in The Aesthetic Mind

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691517
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731815 | DOI:
‘I'll Be Your Mirror’? Embodied Agency, Dance, and Neuroscience

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Empirical work can bear crucially on our understanding of the arts when it supports one of a plurality of possible philosophical representations of our artistic practice. For example, a view of the mind as essentially ‘embodied’ and of the body as essentially ‘minded’, grounded in recent work in cognitive neuroscience, may provide us with a better model than an ‘instrumental’ view of the mind/body relationship for representing dance practice. But where we appeal to particular scientific theories in an aesthetic cause, caution is also necessary. Obviously, we need to be sure that the theory in question is well regarded by those working in the relevant branch of science. But, more crucially, we need to respect the scope of the empirical findings. To illustrate how such respect can lacking, I examine recent attempts to bring neuroscientific work on ‘mirror neurons’ to bear upon philosophical questions concerning the performing arts.

Keywords: cognitive neuroscience; mind and body; dance; performing arts

Chapter.  5666 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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