PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE OF ART
December 30, 2019
A Psychohistorical Philosophy for the Science of the Arts
To introduce the reader to the philosophical debates about the science of the arts, I review existing research and discuss three philosophical theses. As a background claim, I begin with the co-dependence thesis, which states that dependence relations have tied arts and sciences together in the past and continue to interlink them in the current historical context. The co-dependence thesis is contested in the debate about the foundations of the science of art. Recent scientific investigations into the arts and aesthetic evaluations have raised two questions. First, is a science art feasible? Second, if such a science is feasible, what are the principles and methods that should provide its conceptual foundations? To examine these questions, I first discuss an objection from art’s specificity, which rests on the idea that empirical studies of art have failed to identify and explain the factors that are distinctive of art. It is one of the most influential philosophical objections to research aimed at developing an empirically-grounded science of art. Notwithstanding this objection, I defend and apply to art theory the thesis of critical naturalism, which holds that scientific and empirical investigations of artistic practices and aesthetic experiences can contribute to our descriptive and normative understanding of the arts. The science of the arts is made of works that create, analyse and test interdisciplinary models of art practices and appreciation. To implement critical naturalism, I introduce the psychohistorical thesis, which states that a method apt for developing integrative explanations of artistic practices and experiences consists in combining research on the mental capacities engaged in the arts with enquiries into the historical and cultural genealogy of such practices. The three theses I present are philosophical heuristics understood as general thoughts that can orient interdisciplinary enquiry and suggest research hypotheses. Although these three theses should not be understood as empirical hypotheses, some ideas derived from these theses have been operationalised as hypotheses and tested by empirical methods.
December 31, 2017
Group singing enhances positive affect in people with Parkinson’s Disease
There is increasing evidence of the benefits of music, in particular singing, for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Current research has primarily focused on vocal or motor symptoms. Our aim was to examine the immediate emotional effects of group singing in peoplewith PD, and whether the type of music sung (familiar vs. unfamiliar songs) moderates thes effects. We also explored whetherdifferences in music reward modulate the emotional effects of group singing in people with PD. 11 participants with PD completed thePositive And Negative Affect Schedule in three conditions: immediately after group singing (1) familiar songs, (2) unfamiliar songs, and(3) no singing. They also completed the Barcelona Music Reward Questionnaire. Positive affect scores were higher in the singing (collapsed across familiar and unfamiliar songs) than no-singing condition. There was no significant difference in positive affect scores between the two singing conditions (familiar/unfamiliar songs). There was a positive but not statistically significant relationship between music reward and positive affect scores after singing. This study documents enhanced positive affect in people with PD immediately after group singing. This has clinical implications for the use of singing as a therapeutic intervention in people with PD.
December 30, 2017
Art and Science: A Philosophical Sketch of Their Historical Complexity and Codependence
To analyze the relations between art and science, philosophers and historians have developed different lines of inquiry. A first type of inquiry considers how artistic and scientific practices have interacted over human history. Another project aims to determine the contributions (if any) that scientific research can make to our understanding of art, including the contributions that cognitive science can make to philosophical questions about the nature of art. We rely on contributions made to these projects in order to demonstrate that art and science are codependent phenomena. Specifically, we explore the codependence of art and science in the context of a historical analysis of their interactions and in the context of contemporary debates on the cognitive science of art.
March 31, 2013
Research seeking a scientific foundation for the theory of art appreciation has raised controversies at the intersection of the social and cognitive sciences. Though equally relevant to a scientific inquiry into art appreciation, psychological and historical approaches to art developed independently and lack a common core of theoretical principles. Historicists argue that psychological and brain sciences ignore the fact that artworks are artifacts produced and appreciated in the context of unique historical situations and artistic intentions. After revealing flaws in the psychological approach, we introduce a psycho-historical framework for the science of art appreciation. This framework demonstrates that a science of art appreciation must investigate how appreciators process causal and historical information to classify and explain their psychological responses to art. Expanding on research about the cognition of artifacts, we identify three modes of appreciation: basic exposure to an artwork, the artistic design stance, and artistic understanding. The artistic design stance, a requisite for artistic understanding, is an attitude whereby appreciators develop their sensitivity to art-historical contexts by means of inquiries into the making, authorship, and functions of artworks. We defend and illustrate the psycho-historical framework with an analysis of existing studies on art appreciation in empirical aesthetics. Finally, we argue that the fluency theory of aesthetic pleasure can be amended to meet the requirements of the framework. We conclude that scientists can tackle fundamental questions about the nature and appreciation of art within the psycho-historical framework.
March 31, 2013
A psycho-historical research program for the integrative science of art
Critics of the target article objected to our account of art appreciators' sensitivity to art-historical contexts and functions, the relations among the modes of artistic appreciation, and the weaknesses of aesthetic science. To rebut these objections and justify our program, we argue that the current neglect of sensitivity to art-historical contexts persists as a result of a pervasive aesthetic–artistic confound; we further specify our claim that basic exposure and the design stance are necessary conditions of artistic understanding; and we explain why many experimental studies do not belong to a psycho-historical science of art.
December 31, 2008
Material anamnesis and the prompting of aesthetic worlds: the psycho-historical theory of artworks
Many scholars view artworks as the products of cultural history and arbitrary institutional conventions. Others construe art as the result of psychological mechanisms internal to the organism. These historical and psychological approaches are often viewed as foes rather than friends. Is it possible to combine these two approaches in a unified analysis of the perception and consciousness of artworks? I defend a positive answer to this question and propose a psycho-historical theory, which argues that artworks are historical and material artefacts designed to prompt mental activities and elicit the conscious experience of aesthetic worlds. My argument suggests that the material components of artworks--termed their ‘material substrata'--are crucial mediators between historical contexts and the mental activities elicited by the perception of artworks.