What “sort” of mind is required in order to be able to engage in aesthetic experiences? What are the marks of the aesthetic mind and which features distinguish aesthetic mental states? As humans, we are able not only to produce cognitions, feel emotions, use symbols, but also to engage in aesthetic and artistic experiences. How did our aesthetic mind arise over the course of evolution? Is it a by-product, or a side effect, of the development of our symbolic-linguistic competences or, on the contrary, is precisely our aesthetic ability that allows the development (both in a phylogenetic and in an ontogenetic sense) of human language and symbolic thought? What is the relationship between the emergence of human modern mind and the origin of art?
These are some of the challenging issues addressed during the International Conference The Aesthetic Mind and Origin of Art, held at the University of Florence, Department of Education, from January, 23rd to January 25th 2014. The essays collected in the present issue of «Aisthesis. Pratiche, linguaggi e saperi dell’estetico» mostly stem from talks originally delivered at the conference by leading researchers and international scholars across a wide range of disciplines.