Vol. 8 No. 1 (2015): The Aesthetic Mind and the Origin of Art

“Aesthetic Primitives”: Fundamental Biological Elements of a Naturalistic Aesthetics

Published May 18, 2015
  • Aesthetic Mind,
  • Neuroaesthetics,
  • evolutionary aesthetics,
  • cognitive aesthetics
How to Cite
Dissanayake, E. (2015). “Aesthetic Primitives”: Fundamental Biological Elements of a Naturalistic Aesthetics. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 8(1), 6-24. https://doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-16203


Aesthetics, like other philosophical subjects, has historically made use of «top down» (mentalistic, analytic, and linguistic) methods. Recent discoveries in genetics, evolutionary psychology, paleoarchaeology, and neuroscience call for a new «naturalistic» or «bottom up» perspective. Combining these fields with behavioral biology and ethnoarts studies, I offer seven premises that underlie a new understanding of evolved predispositions of the brain/mind that all artists use to attract attention, sustain interest, and create, mold, and shape emotion. I describe aesthetic «primitives» in somatic and behavioral (as well as psychosensory) modalities, suggesting that these were present in early sapiens and continue to influence human art making and aesthetic response today. Keywords: Aesthetic Mind; Neuroaesthetics, evolutionary aesthetics, cognitive aesthetics, evolution of art.


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