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The Artful MindCognitive Science and the Riddle of Human Creativity$
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Mark Turner

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306361.001.0001

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Composition and Emotion

Composition and Emotion

(p.73) 4 Composition and Emotion
The Artful Mind

David Freedberg

Oxford University Press

The study of aesthetics within an evolutionary framework has focused on the appetite for beauty as an engine for driving adaptive behavior in habitat and mate choice. This chapter proposes that aesthetic experience is its own goal, in the sense that the experience implicitly provides adaptively useful information utilized for purposes of self-construction. At the cognitive roots of art is a subjective phenomenology of aesthetic enjoyment. Current work in evolutionary theory is animated by the seductive promise of a functional explanation for every key human trait. This chapter argues that the aesthetic impulse and experience is an appetite for certain types of information—in a word, that beauty is a kind of truth. It takes its cue from John Keats's “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, which famously and rather fatuously proclaims that beauty is the only kind of truth we have or need.

Keywords:   John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn, aesthetics, truth, beauty, art, aesthetic experience, self-construction, evolutionary theory, aesthetic enjoyment

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