Chapter

Neurology of Visual Aesthetics

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Elizabeth Seckel

in Aesthetic Science

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199732142
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918485 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732142.003.0086
Neurology of Visual Aesthetics

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We suggest that there are "aesthetic universals" analogous to Chomskyan deep structure for language and present several "laws" of aesthetics - some old and some new. We argue that for each law three things are needed; what, why, and how. First a clear statement of it; second an analysis of the underlying functional logic in evolutionary terms and third, figuring out its neural instantiation. We attempt to do this for several of our laws. We also make a distinction between art and aesthetics and argue that only the latter is tractable scientifically. Finally we spell out a genuine (ie non - arbitrary, not culturally imposed nor idiosyncratically subjective) criterion to distinguish between kitsch and "real" and suggest that this holds the key to understanding art.

Keywords: aesthetic universals; Chomskyan deep structure; functional logic; kitsch

Chapter.  6450 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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