Abstract and Keywords
A thumbnail history of experimental aesthetics is offered, including the influences of the cognitive revolution and evolutionary psychology on aesthetic discourse. In contrast to traditional aesthetic arguments against hedonism, it is noted that modern physiological psychology breathes new life into this formerly discredited notion (“neohedonism”). Historically, musical aesthetics has been dominated by the idea, promulgated by Kant, that there are unique aesthetic pleasures that exist aside from utilitarian pleasures. However, this idea is difficult to reconcile with the arguments of evolutionary psychologists and biologists that the brain mechanisms that generate emotions represent evolved adaptations. It is suggested that cognitive psychology has yet to examine the role of an observer’s attitude or disposition in defining aesthetic experience. That is, a thoroughly cognitive approach to aesthetic experience awaits.
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