Aesthetic Disinterestedness in Neuroaesthetics: A Phenomenological Critique
In recent neuroaesthetic discussion, neuroscientists have linked aesthetic pleasure to the brain’s reward systems, but they have also attempted to dissociate it from utilitarian rewards and ultimately explain it as a disinterested state of mind. This paper examines this neuroaesthetic approach, juxtaposing it with elements of phenomenological thought on the subject of aesthetic disinterestedness, to present three interrelated concerns that can be raised from a phenomenological perspective, as well as to outline how to overcome these problems phenomenologically. The paper ends with the suggestion that neuroaesthetics, if it is ever going to offer something important or useful regarding our understanding of aesthetic experience, has to become phenomenologically sensitive and informed.
Berridge, Kent and Kringelbach, Morten. 2008. “Affective Neuroscience of Pleasure: Reward in Humans and Animals.” Psychopharmacology 199/3:457–480.
Berridge, Kent and Kringelbach, Morten. 2015. “Pleasure Systems in the Brain.” Neuron 86:646–664.
Bundgaard, Peer F. 2015. “Feeling, Meaning, and Intentionality—A Critique of the Neuroaesthetics of Beauty.” Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14/4:781–801.
Cairns, Dorion. 1976. Conversations with Husserl and Fink. The Hague: Martinus Nihjoff.
Chatterjee, Anjan. 2010. “Neuroaesthetics: A coming of Age Story.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 23/1:53–62.
Chatterjee, Anjan. 2011. “Visual Art.” In Neurobiology of Sensation and Reward, edited by J. A. Gottfried, 391–404. Boca Raton / London / New York: CRC Press.
Chatterjee, Anjan. 2012. “Neuroaesthetics: Growing Pains of a New Discipline.” In Aesthetic Science: Connecting Minds, Brains, and Experience, edited by A. Shimamura and S. Palmer, 299–317. New York: Oxford University Press.
Chatterjee, Anjan. 2014. The Aesthetic Brain: How we evolved to desire Beauty and enjoy Art. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press.
Chatterjee, Anjan and Vartanian, Oshin. 2014. “Neuroaesthetics.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 18/7:370–75.
Chatterjee, Anjan and Vartanian, Oshin. 2016. “Neuroscience of Aesthetics.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1369:172–194.
Currie, Gregory. 2003. “Aesthetics and Cognitive Science.” In The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics, edited by J. Levinson, 706–721. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Firenze, Elio. 2015. “Phenomenology and Neuroaesthetics.” Aisthesis 8/1:135-45.
Gallagher, Shaun. 2011. “Aesthetics and Kinaesthetics.” In Sehen und Handeln, edited by J. Krois and H. Bredekamp, 99–113. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
Hilgers, Thomas. 2016. Aesthetic Disinterestedness: Art, Experience, and the Self. New York / London: Routledge.
Husserl, Edmund. 1952. Ideen zur einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Zweites Buch: Phänomenologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution, Hua IV, edited by M. Biemel. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Engl. transl. Richard Rojcewicz and André Schuwer. 1989. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Second Book: Studies in the Phenomenology of Constitution. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Husserl, Edmund. 1974. Formale und Transzendentale Logik, Versuch einer Kritik der logischen Vernunft, Hua XVII, edited by P. Janssen. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Engl. transl. of Appendix IV, A. J. Steinbock. 2001. Analyses concerning Passive and Active Synthesis. Lectures on Transcendental Logic. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Husserl, Edmund. 1980. Phantasie, Bildbewustsein, Erinnerung. Zur Phänomenologie der anschaulichen Vergegenwärtigungen. Texte aus dem Nachlass 1898-1925, Hua XXIII. Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. Engl. transl. J. B. Brough. 2005. Phantasy, Image Consciousness, and Memory. Dordrecht: Springer.
Husserl, Edmund. 2002. Zur Phänomenologischen Reduktion, Texte aus den Nachlass 1925–1935, Hua XXXIV, edited by S. Luft. Dordrecht: Springer.
Hyman, John. 2010. “Art and Neuroscience.” In Beyond Mimesis and Convention, edited by R. Frigg and M. Hunter, 245–261. Berlin: Springer.
Leder, Helmut and Nadal, Marcos. 2014. “Ten Years of a Model of Aesthetic Appreciation and Aesthetic Judgments: The Aesthetic Episode – Developments and Challenges in Empirical Aesthetics.” British Journal of Psychology 105:443–464.
Leder, H., Gerger, G., Brieber, D., and Schwarz, N. 2014. “What makes an Art Expert? Emotion and Evaluation in Art Appreciation.” Cognition and Emotion 28/6:1137–1147.
Lories, Danielle. 2006. “Remarks on Aesthetic Intentionality: Husserl or Kant.” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14/1:31–49.
Massey, Irving. 2009. The Neural Imagination: Aesthetic and Neuroscientific Approaches to the Arts. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Nadal, M., Munar, E., Capo, M., Rossello, J. and Cela-Conde, C. J. 2008. “Towards a Framework for the Study of the Neural Correlates of Aesthetic Preference.” Spatial Vision 21/3–5:379–396.
Nadal, Marcos and Skov, Martin. 2013. “Introduction to the Special Issue: Toward an Interdisciplinary Neuroaesthetics.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 7/1:1–12.
Nadal, M., Gálvez, A. and Gomila, A. 2014. “A History of Neuroaesthetics.” In Introduction to Neuroaesthetics: The Neuroscientific Approach to Aesthetic Experience, Artistic Creativity, and Arts Appreciation, edited by J. O. Lauring, 3–49. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.
Noë, Alva. 2011. “Art and the Limits of Neuroscience.” The New York Times, December 4, 2011, https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/art-and-the-limits-of-neuroscience/.
Noë, Alva. 2015. “How Art reveals the Limits of Neuroscience.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 8, 2015, https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Art-Reveals-the-Limits-of/232821.
Pearce, M., Zaidel, D., Vartarian, O., Skov, M., Leder, H., Chatterjee, A. and Nadal, M. 2016. “Neuroaesthetics: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 11/2:265–279.
Ramachandran, Vilayanur and Hirstein, William. 1999. “The Science of Art: A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 6/6–7:15–51.
Robinson, Terry and Berridge, Kent. 2008. “The Incentive Sensitization Theory of Addiction: Some Current Issues.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363/1507:3137–3146.
Tallis, Raymond. 2008a. “The Limitations of a Neurological Approach to Art.” The Lancet 372:19–20.
Tallis, Raymond. 2008b. “The Neuroscience Delusion.” The Times Literary Supplement, April, 9, 2008.
Townsend, Dabney. 2006. The A to Z in Aesthetics. Plymouth: Scarecrow Press.
Skov, Martin and Nadal, Marcos. 2018. “Art is not Special: An Assault on the Last Lines of Defense Against the Naturalization of the Human Mind.” Reviews in the Neurosciences 29/6:699–702.
Summa, Michela. 2018. “Experiencing Reality and Fiction: Discontinuity and Permeability.” In Imagination and Social Perspectives: Approaches from Phenomenology and Psychopathology, edited by M. Summa, T. Fuchs and L. Vanzago, 45–64. London / New York: Routledge.
Wyvell, Cindy and Berridge, Kent. 2000. “Intra-Accumbens Amphetamine Increases the Conditioned Incentive Salience of Sucrose Reward: Enhancement of Reward “Wanting” without Enhanced “Liking” or Response Reinforcement.” Journal of Neuroscience 20/21:8122–8130.
Zeki, Semir. 1999. Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain. New York: Oxford University Press.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. Note: up to volume 4 issue 1, an incorrect copyright line appears in the PDFs of the articles.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).