Cognitive Science, Aesthetics, and the Development of Taste


Aesthetics and the arts have garnered more attention within cognitive science in recent years. Despite this increasing interest, "scientists of art" often focus on one of two areas: the formal properties of artworks themselves, or the mental processes involved in perceiving these works in an isolated, one-on-one encounter. In this paper, I review some representative examples of such work before suggesting some alternative ways that cognitive science might approach aesthetics and the arts -- ways that would complement the isolationist approaches that have predominated to this point. In doing so, I draw on the observations and arguments of various philosophers of art, highlighting some of the socially and culturally situated factors that are important in shaping the development of our taste and sensibilities.

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