Experiencing the Aesthetic: Kantian Autonomy or Evolutionary Biology?
One of the reasons many philosophers are sceptical about empirical approaches to aesthetics is the perception that philosophically loaded terms are employed in rather liberal ways. This scepticism is founded on the impression that the concepts at the heart of aesthetic analysis – such as emotion, beauty or art – seem often to be applied without sufficient attention being paid to exactly what things or events these concepts refer to, or to the ambiguities surrounding the instantiation of many such concepts. For example, in this collection alone, such a mismatch between the material to be analysed and the methodologies employed for the analysis is observed in several places.1 To be sure, not all of these observations are carried from the position of an a priori rejection of the application of scientific programmes to aesthetics. A consistent theme nonetheless is the way that the concepts deployed in empirical analyses seem inadequate to the task of capturing the full depth and breadth of the relevant experience.
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