Evolutionary neurobiology and aesthetics

C. U M Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    If aesthetics is a human universal, it should have a neurobiological basis. Although use of all the senses is, as Aristotle noted, pleasurable, the distance senses are primarily involved in aesthetics. The aesthetic response emerges from the central processing of sensory input. This occurs very rapidly, beneath the level of consciousness, and only the feeling of pleasure emerges into the conscious mind. This is exemplified by landscape appreciation, where it is suggested that a computation built into the nervous system during Paleolithic hunter-gathering is at work. Another inbuilt computation leading to an aesthetic response is the part-whole relationship. This, it is argued, may be traced to the predator-prey "arms races" of evolutionary history. Mate selection also may be responsible for part of our response to landscape and visual art. Aesthetics lies at the core of human mentality, and its study is consequently of importance not only to philosophers and art critics but also to neurobiologists.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-30
    Number of pages14
    JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
    Volume48
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005

    Fingerprint

    neurophysiology
    Neurobiology
    aesthetics
    Esthetics
    Art
    visual arts
    Pleasure
    consciousness
    arts
    Marriage
    Consciousness
    nervous system
    Nervous System
    Emotions
    History
    Evolutionary
    Aesthetics
    predators
    history

    Cite this

    Smith, C. U M. / Evolutionary neurobiology and aesthetics. In: Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 2005 ; Vol. 48, No. 1. pp. 17-30.
    @article{80cb15a0ee62452f8c47352b6088453a,
    title = "Evolutionary neurobiology and aesthetics",
    abstract = "If aesthetics is a human universal, it should have a neurobiological basis. Although use of all the senses is, as Aristotle noted, pleasurable, the distance senses are primarily involved in aesthetics. The aesthetic response emerges from the central processing of sensory input. This occurs very rapidly, beneath the level of consciousness, and only the feeling of pleasure emerges into the conscious mind. This is exemplified by landscape appreciation, where it is suggested that a computation built into the nervous system during Paleolithic hunter-gathering is at work. Another inbuilt computation leading to an aesthetic response is the part-whole relationship. This, it is argued, may be traced to the predator-prey {"}arms races{"} of evolutionary history. Mate selection also may be responsible for part of our response to landscape and visual art. Aesthetics lies at the core of human mentality, and its study is consequently of importance not only to philosophers and art critics but also to neurobiologists.",
    author = "Smith, {C. U M}",
    year = "2005",
    month = "12",
    day = "1",
    language = "English",
    volume = "48",
    pages = "17--30",
    journal = "Perspectives in Biology and Medicine",
    issn = "0031-5982",
    publisher = "Johns Hopkins University Press",
    number = "1",

    }

    Evolutionary neurobiology and aesthetics. / Smith, C. U M.

    In: Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Vol. 48, No. 1, 01.12.2005, p. 17-30.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Evolutionary neurobiology and aesthetics

    AU - Smith, C. U M

    PY - 2005/12/1

    Y1 - 2005/12/1

    N2 - If aesthetics is a human universal, it should have a neurobiological basis. Although use of all the senses is, as Aristotle noted, pleasurable, the distance senses are primarily involved in aesthetics. The aesthetic response emerges from the central processing of sensory input. This occurs very rapidly, beneath the level of consciousness, and only the feeling of pleasure emerges into the conscious mind. This is exemplified by landscape appreciation, where it is suggested that a computation built into the nervous system during Paleolithic hunter-gathering is at work. Another inbuilt computation leading to an aesthetic response is the part-whole relationship. This, it is argued, may be traced to the predator-prey "arms races" of evolutionary history. Mate selection also may be responsible for part of our response to landscape and visual art. Aesthetics lies at the core of human mentality, and its study is consequently of importance not only to philosophers and art critics but also to neurobiologists.

    AB - If aesthetics is a human universal, it should have a neurobiological basis. Although use of all the senses is, as Aristotle noted, pleasurable, the distance senses are primarily involved in aesthetics. The aesthetic response emerges from the central processing of sensory input. This occurs very rapidly, beneath the level of consciousness, and only the feeling of pleasure emerges into the conscious mind. This is exemplified by landscape appreciation, where it is suggested that a computation built into the nervous system during Paleolithic hunter-gathering is at work. Another inbuilt computation leading to an aesthetic response is the part-whole relationship. This, it is argued, may be traced to the predator-prey "arms races" of evolutionary history. Mate selection also may be responsible for part of our response to landscape and visual art. Aesthetics lies at the core of human mentality, and its study is consequently of importance not only to philosophers and art critics but also to neurobiologists.

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=12744279703&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    M3 - Article

    C2 - 15681876

    AN - SCOPUS:12744279703

    VL - 48

    SP - 17

    EP - 30

    JO - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

    JF - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

    SN - 0031-5982

    IS - 1

    ER -