Triangulating Aesthetic Experience

Murray Smith

in Aesthetic Science

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199732142
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918485 | DOI:
Triangulating Aesthetic Experience

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Among the various possible targets of a science of aesthetics, the study of aesthetic experience throws up particular challenges, relating to the much debated question of the scientific tractability of consciousness in general. In this essay I seek to undermine scepticism about this possibility by first underlining how aesthetic experience depends on objective, quantifiable features of the world. Building on this foundation, I argue for the integration and triangulation of phenomenological, psychological and neurological evidence pertaining to aesthetic experience. The method of triangulation is exemplified through the exploration of anomalous suspense and empathy. Along the way, the essay warns against too heavy a reliance on neural evidence, and notes the importance of ‘subpersonal’ phenomena to a science of aesthetic experience.

Keywords: triangulation; consciousness; phenomenology; psychology; neuroscience; suspense; empathy; subpersonal

Chapter.  12002 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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