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The Aesthetic Brain takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Chatterjee uses neuroscience to probe how an aesthetic sense is etched in our minds and evolutionary psychology to explain why aesthetic concerns feature centrally in our lives. Along the way, Chatterjee addresses fundamental questions: What is beauty? Is beauty u The Aesthetic Brain takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Chatterjee uses neuroscience to probe how an aesthetic sense is etched in our minds and evolutionary psychology to explain why aesthetic concerns feature centrally in our lives. Along the way, Chatterjee addresses fundamental questions: What is beauty? Is beauty universal? How is beauty related to pleasure? What is art? Should art be beautiful? Do we have an instinct for art? Chatterjee starts by probing the reasons that we find people, places, and even numbers beautiful. At the root of beauty, he finds, is pleasure. He then examines our pleasures by dissecting why we want and why we like food, sex, and money and how these rewards relate to aesthetic encounters. His ruminations on beauty and pleasure prepare him and the reader to face art. He wanders through the problems of defining art, understanding contemporary art, and interpreting ancient art. He explores why art, something that seems so useless, also feels fundamental to our humanity. Replete with facts, anecdotes, and analogies, this empirical guide to aesthetics offers scientific answers without deflating the wonders of beauty and art.


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The Aesthetic Brain takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Chatterjee uses neuroscience to probe how an aesthetic sense is etched in our minds and evolutionary psychology to explain why aesthetic concerns feature centrally in our lives. Along the way, Chatterjee addresses fundamental questions: What is beauty? Is beauty u The Aesthetic Brain takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Chatterjee uses neuroscience to probe how an aesthetic sense is etched in our minds and evolutionary psychology to explain why aesthetic concerns feature centrally in our lives. Along the way, Chatterjee addresses fundamental questions: What is beauty? Is beauty universal? How is beauty related to pleasure? What is art? Should art be beautiful? Do we have an instinct for art? Chatterjee starts by probing the reasons that we find people, places, and even numbers beautiful. At the root of beauty, he finds, is pleasure. He then examines our pleasures by dissecting why we want and why we like food, sex, and money and how these rewards relate to aesthetic encounters. His ruminations on beauty and pleasure prepare him and the reader to face art. He wanders through the problems of defining art, understanding contemporary art, and interpreting ancient art. He explores why art, something that seems so useless, also feels fundamental to our humanity. Replete with facts, anecdotes, and analogies, this empirical guide to aesthetics offers scientific answers without deflating the wonders of beauty and art.

30 review for The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kunal Sen

    Why we like beautiful things is a question that have been intriguing me since my high school days. I remember building an electronic gadget in early seventies that could produce numerically determined musical notes, and I would try it on my friends to see if they found it melodious or not. I developed my own ideas about the evolutionary roots of aesthetic appreciation, but could not find any books that would satisfy my curiosity. Many decades have gone by since my personal attempts to find an ans Why we like beautiful things is a question that have been intriguing me since my high school days. I remember building an electronic gadget in early seventies that could produce numerically determined musical notes, and I would try it on my friends to see if they found it melodious or not. I developed my own ideas about the evolutionary roots of aesthetic appreciation, but could not find any books that would satisfy my curiosity. Many decades have gone by since my personal attempts to find an answer until I read Eric Kandel's "Age of Insight" and V.S.Ramachandran's "The Tell-Tale Brain". Both of these books had sections that discussed the neurological (the "how") and evolutionary (the "why") basis of visual aesthetics. The ideas in these books also inspired me to create a series of art pieces that dealt with these questions. Therefore, I was really ready to read Anjan Chatterjee's book -- an entire book dealing with this very question, and I was not disappointed. He has been able to present a wonderful summary of all the past work in this field, while making it accessible to non-specialists like us. I am also very glad that he didn't exclude the philosophical and social scientist's view of the topic. However, the most enjoyable parts are where he describes his own ideas about the subject and how he extended the frontier. It is a very exciting time for this nascent field, and I can't wait to see what happens in the next few decades.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nelson Zagalo

    Anjan Chatterjee é professor de neurologia na Universidade de Pennsylvania onde desenvolve investigação no campo recente da Neuroestética, um campo que procura dar conta do modo como terá surgido a arte, o que nos motivou e motiva para esta. Em "The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art" (2013) o autor lança-se ao problema central desta abordagem, grande interrogação: se tudo aquilo que somos hoje é fruto de um processo adaptativo de milénios em função da melhor condição Anjan Chatterjee é professor de neurologia na Universidade de Pennsylvania onde desenvolve investigação no campo recente da Neuroestética, um campo que procura dar conta do modo como terá surgido a arte, o que nos motivou e motiva para esta. Em "The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art" (2013) o autor lança-se ao problema central desta abordagem, grande interrogação: se tudo aquilo que somos hoje é fruto de um processo adaptativo de milénios em função da melhor condição de sobrevivência - selecção natural de Darwin - como é que surge a arte, algo que supostamente não tem um fim, nem utilidade? Chatterjee dá conta da história dos estudos sobre o belo, sobre a importância do sexo na atractividade humana, assim como da paisagem, dá conta das abordagens empíricas e o seu choque com as abordagens filosóficas. Passa em resumo muito do que tem sido esta busca, para chegar ao seu objetivo que é propor uma nova abordagem explicativa sobre o fundamento da arte. Assim parte das duas grandes teorias evolucionárias que procuram explicar de onde nos surge esta capacidade para apreciar e reconhecer o belo e como se enraizou tanto na nossa cognição: a arte como instinto, e a arte como subproduto. A primeira dá conta da arte como uma necessidade humana, como parte do nosso devir, afirmando que a arte evoluiu como uma adaptação natural às necessidades que fomos manifestando ao longo do tempo, transformando-se num instinto. A segunda defende que a arte poderá ter surgido como fruto de outras necessidades humanas, de forma um tanto aleatória, tendo-se encrostado nessa e permanecido. Sobre a primeira Chatterjee dá conta dos estudos de Dutton que eu já aqui dei conta a propósito do livro “The Art Instinct” (2009). E que fundamentam a arte no processo de seleção sexual, algo corroborado por estudos empíricos universais, que dão conta do esforço envolvido no desenvolvimento artístico como um sinal, para o outro, dos talentos. A segunda é talvez a menos acarinhada porque assume a arte como um erro da natureza, fruto do acaso, e por isso mesmo também menos dada a uma teorização cabal. Ora Chatterjee defende que nem a arte é um subproduto, mas que nem por isso é um instinto. Aliás, o trabalho de Dutton tinha sido baseado no trabalho em que Steven Pinker defendia a linguagem também como um instinto e também este vem sendo rebatido. Deste modo o que temos aqui configura-se desde já como um rebate ao inatismo, procurando demonstrar antes o lado evolutivo e adaptativo, funcionando na intersecção entre biologia e cultura. Assim a proposta de uma terceira via interpretativa da arte surge a Chatterjee a partir da análise do canto de um pássaro (Munia ou Bengal Finch), que depois de cambiado de habitat, alterou profundamente o seu canto. Ou seja, no habitat de origem o seu canto tinha como função alertar para os predadores, ou encontrar os amigos. No novo habitat estas pressões desapareceram, tendo deixado espaço, para que as suas capacidades de canto se desenvolvessem e tornassem mais complexas. Ou seja, nesta abordagem Chatterjee defende que depois de cumpridas as necessidades básicas - comida, segurança e sexo - resta-nos o ócio, libertador das preocupações, stress e controlo, capaz de nos levar a dedicar tempo na maturação e complexificação daquilo que fazemos enquanto ação externa, ou expressiva. “Art germinates instinctually and matures serendipitously. Its content is a serendipitous mixture born of time and place and culture and personality. Could it be any other way? Being deprived of a grand unifying instinctual theory of art is not a cause for concern. Instead, the diverse, local, and serendipitous nature of art is precisely why art can surprise us, enlighten us, force us to see the world differently, ground us, shake us, please us, anger us, bewilder us, and make believers of us.” (p. 185) Esta teorização permite dar conta das duas primeiras teorias, porque junta o instinto e o subproduto. Dá ainda conta do modo como a escultura, a imagem e por sua vez as histórias surgiram numa fase tão tardia da nossa espécie, respondendo tanto à vontade artística como à contemplação estética. É uma boa explicação, mas não deixa de ter vários problemas, desde logo porque não deixamos de criar, ou de nos expressar, mesmo quando as necessidades básicas não estão cumpridas. É verdade que o artista só se torna evoluído com muitíssimo treino, e para chegar lá, precisa por um lado de ter as necessidades básicas saciadas, assim como precisa do reconhecimento da sua arte. Ninguém, salvo raras excepções com algum desvio patológico, investe uma vida no aperfeiçoamento de uma arte, se não tiver ninguém com quem a partilhar. Contudo e como o próprio autor nos diz, esta perspectiva é mais uma para nos ajudar a trilhar este caminho, não procura fechar o assunto. Ler com links em: http://virtual-illusion.blogspot.pt/2...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zo

    Lots of repeat information from other things I've read, but generally solid analysis and a few highlights that made it worthwhile. Specifically, the sections on numbers (mostly focused on the Golden Ratio), ancient art practices, and the section at the end comparing our art "instinct" to the Japanese finch that developed song variation in low-selection pressure environments all were informative and interesting. Aside from repetition and writing for a less-familiar audience, my other main critici Lots of repeat information from other things I've read, but generally solid analysis and a few highlights that made it worthwhile. Specifically, the sections on numbers (mostly focused on the Golden Ratio), ancient art practices, and the section at the end comparing our art "instinct" to the Japanese finch that developed song variation in low-selection pressure environments all were informative and interesting. Aside from repetition and writing for a less-familiar audience, my other main criticism is that I don't think this book probes the material deeply enough. A number of the studies/results he mentions on beauty/pleasure I think are open to critique (and have been critiqued in replication crisis), and I don't think he sufficiently addresses the thorny questions about the depth of beauty/pleasure experiences (particularly when it comes to flowers, sunsets, sublime). I also would have liked to see more discussion of how understanding of aesthetics integrates with larger understanding of border between cognition/perception, theories of mind, and harmony/dissonance play (he hints at this with focus on importance of knowledge we bring to table but doesn't dive further). Another thing that came to my mind is more comparison of our beauty/pleasure instincts with other animals could probably be illuminating of the evolutionary why questions. Finally, as is the case in many psychology books I wish there was more discussion of individual differences and variability in aesthetic inclinations (though the knowledge stuff again somewhat touches on this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dary

    Being directly engaged in activity that demands beauty as its priority, even doing it professionally, had made me wonder why I was so captivated by beauty that made me want to strive hard to achieve it (i.e. on playing a single note in violin beautifully). Beauty itself started to become shallow to me after I managed to acheive it (still talking about that beautiful notes). So I wanted to look for deeper understandings on what I've acheived. This desire was intensified as I decided to open my so Being directly engaged in activity that demands beauty as its priority, even doing it professionally, had made me wonder why I was so captivated by beauty that made me want to strive hard to achieve it (i.e. on playing a single note in violin beautifully). Beauty itself started to become shallow to me after I managed to acheive it (still talking about that beautiful notes). So I wanted to look for deeper understandings on what I've acheived. This desire was intensified as I decided to open my social media accounts again (in many cases; Instagram), where many people share - I must say - meaningless yet considerably beautiful photos. Since then, superficial beauty has often made me roll my eyes. This book has helped me answer my questions with scientific, historical, psychological, and philosophical point of views. Even when it focuses on visual beauty, sometimes I could also find some references for aural beauty. But more important is the discussion of the universal beauty that can be applied on many aspects. And this book provides it enough with clarity. What I like from this book is how this book systematically organized. At the end of the chapters the author summarizes the content clearly and often poses questions that made me curious and unpatiently look for explanations in the next chapter. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide enough pictures that could facilitate us to give more visual understandings on many subjects like brain anatomy, the paintings the author mentioned, or examples of beauty that he reffered to. (Prepare the search engine) From this book I learned about the role of averageness, symmetry, and sexual dimorphism in facial beauty and beautiful body, role of adaptations on beautiful landscapes that rooted from our ancestor, finding beauty in abstract objects from complexity to simplicity, how beauty evolves, role of pleasures in aesthetic response, how brain reacts to pleasure of food and sex, how abstract objects create pleasure in brain, about liking and wanting system, how pleasure makes us learn, about the role of sensation, emotions, and meaning in aesthetic experience, about flexibility in aesthetic experience, about instinct of art, art as evolutionary by-product, and analogy of white rumped munia and Bengalese finch's song to explain art, about the power of art, and how its content is shaped.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alina Lucia

    A perfect example of the great insights inter-disciplinary perspectives may reveal. Short,sweet and compelling. Loved this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Fernandes

    Anjan Chatterjee uses Art as a tool to expose his scientific and philosophical vision about the complex brain components that although inaccessible to the conscious mind, mechanically determine our desires, pleasures and aesthetic experiences. With no pretension of being the absolute truth, it is an easy read where neuroscience is interestingly complemented with evolutionary psychology and biology.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nelson Ramos

    Neste livro, intitulado The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art (2013) de Anjan Chatterjee, temos uma visão sobre a arte e como ela funciona num todo orgânico no nosso cérebro. A leitura foi feita de uma forma lenta, porque o tema também é um sobre o qual gosto de refletir. A reflexão obrigou a que tivesse que fazer outro tipo de abordagem. Por isso tentei colocar-me na primeira pessoa na análise ao mesmo. Para que as ideias ficassem incutidas de uma forma mais profunda Neste livro, intitulado The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art (2013) de Anjan Chatterjee, temos uma visão sobre a arte e como ela funciona num todo orgânico no nosso cérebro. A leitura foi feita de uma forma lenta, porque o tema também é um sobre o qual gosto de refletir. A reflexão obrigou a que tivesse que fazer outro tipo de abordagem. Por isso tentei colocar-me na primeira pessoa na análise ao mesmo. Para que as ideias ficassem incutidas de uma forma mais profunda, esta resenha é baseada em excertos do livro que considero importantes reter. No livro o autor assume uma teorização científica. Porque normalmente, a objectividade assume uma forma quantitativa. E traduzir experiências estéticas, aparentemente transcendentes, em números é crítico para uma abordagem experimental à estética. Ou seja, informações precisam de ser quantificadas, hipóteses precisam de ser testadas e reivindicações precisam de ser replicadas ou falsificadas. Aqueles são os fundamentos básicos sobre o qual o progresso em ciência é construído. No entanto, é esta abordagem que é necessária para haver uma ciência da estética. Talvez porque a experiência estética e uma propriedade emergente de componentes diferentes, que não podem ser derivados a estudar as suas partes. Por isso, o autor fala no livro sobre os encontros estéticos e não sobre a condição para acontecer tais encontros. Nesse sentido, poupa-nos às conclusões científicas que caracterizam essa escrita. Assim, o neurocientista coneta a estética psicológica evolutiva com a neurociência. Focando-se sobre o cérebro e os quadros que ajudam melhor a compreender a estética interligando aquelas duas áreas científicas para melhor iluminar o caminho labiríntico da beleza, prazer e arte. A ideia básica da psicologia evolutiva é que as nossas faculdades mentais ou biologia evoluíram para melhor potencializar as nossas hipóteses de sobrevivência. Partindo deste paradigma, o autor fala de como as experiências agradáveis levantam a questão do que significa ter uma experiência estética? Nesse sentido responde que no cérebro, os nossos sistemas emocionais de prazer estão alojados em estruturas profundas, distantes da superfície. Juntamente com outras estruturas mentais de sobrevivência. Por essa razão existe um paradoxo: nós evoluímos as nossas respostas à beleza porque elas foram úteis para a nossa sobrevivência, no entanto essas respostas estéticas supostamente não devem ser úteis à nossa sobrevivência! Gostamos do que nós queremos e queremos o que quisermos. Uma linguagem inata no nosso sistema evolutivo. O que podemos querer sem gosto? Chatterjee dá o exemplo da droga, ou como os drogados se tornam dependentes da droga, ao ponto de não "sobreviverem" sem elas. O vício é o protótipo do estado antiestético. A experiência estética, segundo o autor deve-se a uma tríade das nossas faculdades: sensações, emoções e entendimento. Este último assume maior importância, porque leva-nos a perceber como a arte pode ser evolutiva. Por exemplo, as pinturas impressionistas hoje em dia adoradas pelo público em geral, inicialmente foram vistas com renitência. A mudança aconteceu na ligação entre os sistemas de recompensa com base no nosso conhecimento e experiência e percepções específicas. Essa flexibilidade pelos quais os componentes se combinam em conjuntos estéticos é parte do que faz arte e estética experiências ricas e mesmo imprevisíveis. Assim, os estudiosos falam da evolução da arte em duas diferentes perspectivas: ou tomam a arte como instinto ou como um subproduto evolucionista. Partindo destes dois paradigmas, Chatterjee procura no livro dar uma terceira perspetiva sobre a experiência estética e arte. Nesse sentido, fala-nos da serendipidade (feliz acidente) da arte, isto é, os objetos de arte despertam reações que podem nos dar prazer, mas não têm obrigação de o dar. Mesmo que a maioria das pessoas associem beleza com arte, muitas das vezes, a arte não tem que ser bela para dar prazer, pode mesmo ser feia. Por outras palavras, o neurocientista explica que a arte contemporânea pode evocar combinações complexas de emoções. Por exemplo, a arte revolucionária, tudo que possa ser criado pelo entendimento da fé, na meditação sobre comportamentos obsessivos, incita-nos a lutar contra sistemas opressivos. Veja-se o exemplo de Ai Weiwei, considerado pela Art Review como um dos artistas mais influentes da atualidade. Como apontam os teóricos expressionistas da arte: a arte pode comunicar emoções, nuances que são difíceis de transmitir em palavras e se transformam na raça do coração. A neuroestética, área em que autor leciona, mostra que o cérebro não tem um módulo dedicado há estética ou arte no cérebro. Nós não temos nenhum receptor estético específico e análogo aos nossos receptores de visão, tacto ou olfacto. Como também não temos também nenhuma emoção estética ao medo, ansiedade ou felicidade, memória, linguagem ou acção. Em vez disso, aponta que as experiências estéticas envolvem flexíveis conjuntos neurais dos sistemas sensoriais, emocionais e cognitivos. Essa flexibilidade incorpora os conjuntos do que faz a arte e a estética imprevisíveis. A arte está em toda a parte e existe de uma forma profunda há milhares de anos. A universalidade da arte torna improvável que seja um subproduto de outras capacidades cognitivas evoluídas. E é nesta parte que a reflexão atingiu o seu êxtase. Pois a leitura deu-me uma nova perspetiva para pensar sobre a arte. O poder da arte é a sua capacidade de mover-nos e fazer-nos experimentar temas antigos com novos olhos, é transmitido através da sua expressão local. O conteúdo da arte é moldado por condições locais: a cultura em que nasce, os seus antecedentes históricos, as condições económicas da sua produção e recepção e referências relevante para o seu tempo e lugar. A arte é uma coleção bagunçada de adaptações e é repleta de modificações e plug-ins formado por episódios históricos e nichos culturais. Quando as pressões culturais selecionam tipos específicos de arte, a arte produzida cai dentro de limites estilizados estreitos. Quando as pressões seletivas culturais são relaxadas, a arte floresce. Não temos um único instinto artístico. Temos instintos que desencadeiam um comportamento artístico. Em vez de ser dominado pelos instintos, é o relaxamento do controle instintivo que permite à arte expressar-se plenamente. A arte germina instintivamente e amadurece. O seu conteúdo é uma mistura nascida de tempo e lugar e cultura e personalidade. Poderia ser de outra maneira? Ser privado de uma grande teoria instintiva de arte unificadora não é motivo de preocupação. Em vez disso, a natureza diversa, local e serendipidade da arte é o que nos pode surpreender, iluminar, forçar-nos a ver o mundo de forma diferente, . Quando estamos livres, relaxamos na arte. É um feliz acidente natural e inato.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    A valiant and commendable effort. As some other reviewers have said, the studies he cites in some cases have been subject to dispute. And while I've heard a lot about the things he speaks about in other works—especially the Golden Ratio—I really, really enjoyed how extensive his citing of anatomy in the brain. Brings me back to having to memorize the brain via lateral sections. (Shoutout to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex!) Unfortunately, while it went way deeper than Chatterjee needed to sell A valiant and commendable effort. As some other reviewers have said, the studies he cites in some cases have been subject to dispute. And while I've heard a lot about the things he speaks about in other works—especially the Golden Ratio—I really, really enjoyed how extensive his citing of anatomy in the brain. Brings me back to having to memorize the brain via lateral sections. (Shoutout to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex!) Unfortunately, while it went way deeper than Chatterjee needed to sell his book—to his credit he cites a voluminous array of academic work and makes it very clear that he is not going to make claims beyond the scope of what his research can cover. This alone is very worthy of commemoration. Also, and this is totally arbitrary and based mostly on my own caprice, one star gets knocked off for almost exclusively citing 'modern' artwork. For a work on aesthetics, I'm pitch-kettled that things which lack objective beauty deserve implicit pride of place. (And yes, I am being facetious and luxuriating in shameless bias.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ana Cretiu

    Chatterjee raises the thesis of art as behavior between instinct and social construct, and shows how the experience of art and the experience of beauty and pleasure are neurologically intertwined. It does not provide the ultimate answers (as we are obviously, by far, not there yet) but it does structure the knowledge that the humanity has of the brain and its way of reacting to certain aesthetic stimuli. The logical flow of the chapters and strategy of argumentation used by the author is beautif Chatterjee raises the thesis of art as behavior between instinct and social construct, and shows how the experience of art and the experience of beauty and pleasure are neurologically intertwined. It does not provide the ultimate answers (as we are obviously, by far, not there yet) but it does structure the knowledge that the humanity has of the brain and its way of reacting to certain aesthetic stimuli. The logical flow of the chapters and strategy of argumentation used by the author is beautifully fluid and the book is very accessible is terms of the specialty "slang" used.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nikolas Alixopulos

    Anjan Chatterjee shows a depth of knowledge in both the arts and neuroscience that helps lend credibility to his research. What wills us to create and enjoy aesthetic experiences? He traces our human history of design from cave paintings to Monet and into Fauvism and Modern Art. With this approach of trying to analyze art under a scientific mindset he is able to do so in a way that manages to maintain a good sense of humor and makes for an enjoyable read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Philip Koslow

    Aesthetics...the search for beauty. From Plato and Aristotle to Immanuel Kant to Susanne Langer to the late Roger Scruton, thinkers (some adored and some reviled) have sought to clarify and define what constitutes the "beautiful." Recent decades have seen the rise of neuroscience as a contributor to our understanding of the nature of brain processing of stimuli (contrasted with cultural nurturing) as a portal to securing the holy grail of beauty. Alas, this book confesses early on that understan Aesthetics...the search for beauty. From Plato and Aristotle to Immanuel Kant to Susanne Langer to the late Roger Scruton, thinkers (some adored and some reviled) have sought to clarify and define what constitutes the "beautiful." Recent decades have seen the rise of neuroscience as a contributor to our understanding of the nature of brain processing of stimuli (contrasted with cultural nurturing) as a portal to securing the holy grail of beauty. Alas, this book confesses early on that understanding the meaning of art, music, literature (or any other aesthetic experience) is likely to be a fool's errand. Although fMRI scanning of brain activity will reveal where sensations and emotions are triggered in the brain when subjects are exposed to various "artistic" (or sublime experiences) may reinforce hypotheses informed by evolutionary theory, retrieving "meaning" from such experiences seem beyond current fMRI technology. "Scientific methods can scrutinize general effects of knowledge on aesthetic experiences, but not the specific knowledge and layered meanings woven into individual works of art." (Page 183). As a way of bounding together the aesthetic three legged stool of sensations, emotions and meaning, the author feels obligated to offer a way out of this "nature versus nurture" problem by suggesting that "Revolutionary art emerges when oppressive regimes show signs of losing their grip on their people" (page 177). Or "Severely oppressive conditions that persist over long periods of time would prevent the emergence of art that is varied and looks creative to our modern eyes" (Page 177). Some historical research may have turned the author's suspicious thinking in another direction in a more fruitful direction. Michaelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) created varied and creative work while being "oppressed" by Pope Julius II's demands. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) a Catholic, achieved a varied and creative canon of work while living under an oppressive Protestant regime of Elizabeth II where Catholics were more than marginalized. And L. v. Beethoven (1770-1827) revolutionized music while living during and after the Napoleonic era of wars and oppression. And there are probably other artists I could site but space doesn't allow. So why 4 stars? The book is clearly written and offers much current information as neuroscience science continues to investigate our miracle called the "brain." Albeit, just as science labors to find a single theory uniting the universe and where linguists eagerly pursue a universal language perhaps we should settle for the pursuit of beauty as likely to be defined as a cultural imperative (nurture) rather than a scientific exploration (nature). Or probably both. Recommend reading with some reservation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paulina Rega

    Po przeczytaniu po raz chyba 20, że idealną proporcją talii do bioder u kobiet jest 0.7, chciałam jeszcze zagryźć zęby i książkę dokończyć, bo obiecywana w opisie tematyka wydawała mi się ciekawa. Wtedy autor zacytował radę, jaką dostał na wystawym przyjęciu od jakiegoś bogacza: „If you want this book to sell make sure you include a lot of sex” - i straciłam złudzenia. Doszłam do połowy książki i mam wrażenie, że 80% treści albo jest bezpośrednio o wyglądzie kobiet, albo używa go jako analogii. Po przeczytaniu po raz chyba 20, że idealną proporcją talii do bioder u kobiet jest 0.7, chciałam jeszcze zagryźć zęby i książkę dokończyć, bo obiecywana w opisie tematyka wydawała mi się ciekawa. Wtedy autor zacytował radę, jaką dostał na wystawym przyjęciu od jakiegoś bogacza: „If you want this book to sell make sure you include a lot of sex” - i straciłam złudzenia. Doszłam do połowy książki i mam wrażenie, że 80% treści albo jest bezpośrednio o wyglądzie kobiet, albo używa go jako analogii. Dodatkowo informacje o tym, jak kiedyś leczono homoseksualizm (???) oraz odwoływanie się do kuzyna Darwina, twórcy eugeniki i seksisty, Francisa Galtona. Nie dowiedziałam się niczego nowego, co by mnie zaskoczyło albo wzbogaciło obraz świata. Niezbyt głębokie omówienie tematu, raczej skierowane do osób, które tematyką estetyki wcześniej się interesowały. A może po prostu ewolucjonizm i neurobiologia nie są tutaj odpowiedziami, którym trzeba by było poświęcić całą książkę? Autor często się powtarza i pierwszy raz w życiu sprawdzałam czy przypadkiem nie przewinęłam książki. Duże rozczarowanie.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Guilherme Faria

    It delivers what it promises but doesn't go very deep on the subject. The author aknowledges the current limitations of research into the brain's interaction with art. I'd recommend this book to people who know very little about neuroscience, as most of the analysis is not revolutionary (the brain's reward system, wanting and liking, visual areas...). Good ideas for future research and different points of view about what is art. It delivers what it promises but doesn't go very deep on the subject. The author aknowledges the current limitations of research into the brain's interaction with art. I'd recommend this book to people who know very little about neuroscience, as most of the analysis is not revolutionary (the brain's reward system, wanting and liking, visual areas...). Good ideas for future research and different points of view about what is art.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zac Sigler

    This was fantastic. It was a bit heavy on naming the parts of the brain (I took Psych 101 and got the highest grade in the class at a prestigious, private institution), but otherwise it was very informative and a pleasure to read. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on how stifling repressive regimes become in relation to creativity in art.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Yoric

    This book attempt is a little weird: A scientific approach to describe art. Art is not rational as science is, so is such an approach doomed to fail? Connecting beauty and pleasure seems interesting. This isn't my priority, but I'm still interested. This book attempt is a little weird: A scientific approach to describe art. Art is not rational as science is, so is such an approach doomed to fail? Connecting beauty and pleasure seems interesting. This isn't my priority, but I'm still interested.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mer

    It's a great attempt to draw together sociological attraction, visual aesthetics and neuro-behaviours. I'm more interested in people's kink and secret attractions that are suppressed by the norm of mainstream aesthetics. Wouldn't those cases provide more insights? It's a great attempt to draw together sociological attraction, visual aesthetics and neuro-behaviours. I'm more interested in people's kink and secret attractions that are suppressed by the norm of mainstream aesthetics. Wouldn't those cases provide more insights?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tony Dib

    يتناول الكتاب تأثير الفن والجمال على الدماغ، لماذا نرى أشياء أجمل من أخرى، ولماذا بدأ البشر بصناعة الفن من الأساس.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Antonio Silva

    I provides a good synthesis and proposes an interesting explanation for what is art in the context of evolution, though it may apply to culture in general.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Subodh

    I am a believer in the theory of evolution, not only for physical characteristics but also mental and social ones. I therefore believe that eventually this theory will come up with a convincing explanation for our preference for art - why something that doesn't apparently add to the survival value is such a fundamental part of our nature and something that triggers some of the most profound experiences of our lives. Anjan Chatterjee's well written book discusses the neurophysiology of the art exp I am a believer in the theory of evolution, not only for physical characteristics but also mental and social ones. I therefore believe that eventually this theory will come up with a convincing explanation for our preference for art - why something that doesn't apparently add to the survival value is such a fundamental part of our nature and something that triggers some of the most profound experiences of our lives. Anjan Chatterjee's well written book discusses the neurophysiology of the art experience. He tells us how modern brain science has mapped the pleasure we derive from art to different areas of the brain. In a nutshell the art experience involves those brain areas which are responsible for processing of a particular type of stimulus working in conjunction with the brain areas for pleasure and emotion. This the pleasure we get from dance, for example, involves the brain areas related to physical movement working in tandem with the emotional centers of the brain. After discussing several alternative theories of art and rejecting them the author offers a hypothesis based on the evolution of the Munia or Bengal Finch which has been bred for several generation away from its natural habitat in Japan. The munia has a characteristic song in its native habitat which might serve a practical purpose of warning against predators, finding a mate or other practical matters. In its new environments these pressures don't exist as the bird is bred not for its song but plumage. Instead of fading away, however, its song has evolved to a more complex level with many variations. Munia developed its song for practical issues like food, safety and sex, but evolved into a virtuoso singer when freed of these practical worries. It is an interesting hypothesis. I can't see how scientists will test it. Meanwhile it does lead to some interesting speculation. Humans evolved words and language to deal with practical matters like food, safety and sex; but when they developed civilization to a level where they had plenty of time on their hands after dealing with the basics they used this ability to tell stories and to recite poetry. The author does not take us down this speculative path but I do hope he will develop this theme further as and when he writes his next book on this subject.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lee Barry

    Excellent book for those attempting to understand abstract and contemporary art from a neuroscientific perspective. Our love of information (visual information in this case) is one of the motivating factors in the liking and wanting of aesthetic objects and experiences. "Unlike sensations and emotions, when it comes to cultural and historical meaning in art, we run into the limits of what neuroscience can offer. Current neuroscientific methods are best at investigating the biology of our minds fo Excellent book for those attempting to understand abstract and contemporary art from a neuroscientific perspective. Our love of information (visual information in this case) is one of the motivating factors in the liking and wanting of aesthetic objects and experiences. "Unlike sensations and emotions, when it comes to cultural and historical meaning in art, we run into the limits of what neuroscience can offer. Current neuroscientific methods are best at investigating the biology of our minds for properties that are stable and relatively universal. We can apprehend the general meaning of the scene very quickly. Neuroscience does have something to say about how this process works. In the same way that we easily interpret what we see when we look out our window, we easily interpret what we see in representational art. This ability is partly why artistically naïve viewers prefer representational paintings over abstract ones: they can latch on to a piece of the meaning of the painting. However, the aspects of meaning in an artwork that changes over time and relies on the interplay of cultural context, the artist's intentions, and the local biases of the viewer are too slippery to be grasped by neuroscience. The richly textured meaning of individual pieces of art that gives art its power is inherently variable and open to many interpretations and thoughts close to neuroscience." *** "It makes sense that liking and wanting in the brain work together. After all, we want objects that we like and we like objects that we want. However, liking and wanting can get uncoupled. For example the drug naloxone blocks the effects of opiates and diminishes the pleasure of eating without decreasing the desire to eat when hungry. This effect means that liking can be turned down without changing wanting. Wanting can also be turned down while preserving liking.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2014.11.15–2014.11.25 Contents Chatterjee A (2003) Aesthetic Brain, The Preface Introduction Part I: Beauty 01. What is this thing called beauty? 02. Captivating faces 03. The measure of facial beauty 04. The body beautiful 05. How the brain works 06. Brains behind beauty 07. Evolving beauty 08. Beautiful landscapes 09. Numbering beauty 10. The illogic of beauty Part II: Pleasure 11. What is this thing called pleasure? 12. Food 13. Sex 14. Money 15. Liking, wanting, learning 16. The logic of pleasure Part III: Art 17. 2014.11.15–2014.11.25 Contents Chatterjee A (2003) Aesthetic Brain, The Preface Introduction Part I: Beauty 01. What is this thing called beauty? 02. Captivating faces 03. The measure of facial beauty 04. The body beautiful 05. How the brain works 06. Brains behind beauty 07. Evolving beauty 08. Beautiful landscapes 09. Numbering beauty 10. The illogic of beauty Part II: Pleasure 11. What is this thing called pleasure? 12. Food 13. Sex 14. Money 15. Liking, wanting, learning 16. The logic of pleasure Part III: Art 17. What is this thing called art? 18. Art: Biology and culture 19. Descriptive science of the arts 20. Experimental science of the arts 21. Conceptual art 22. The roots of art 23. Evolving minds 24. Evolving art 25. Art: A tail or a song? 26. The serendipity of art Acknowledgments Books (that I found useful) References Index

  22. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    It started off interestingly, it's obviously a tantalising subject and elusive - which is exactly why I was drawn to the subject. I was curious to see if Anjan could illustrate "How We Evolved to Desire Beauty". The basic ideas of body symmetry seem logical, selection for procreation and health, genetically programmed desire for certain terrain - plausible. Ultimately, I felt any chance of a concrete conclusion slipping away in the 2nd half of the book, at this point (I admit) I started to skim. Th It started off interestingly, it's obviously a tantalising subject and elusive - which is exactly why I was drawn to the subject. I was curious to see if Anjan could illustrate "How We Evolved to Desire Beauty". The basic ideas of body symmetry seem logical, selection for procreation and health, genetically programmed desire for certain terrain - plausible. Ultimately, I felt any chance of a concrete conclusion slipping away in the 2nd half of the book, at this point (I admit) I started to skim. There will no doubly be subsequent studies into DNA markers, MRI scans and other factors which might link directly to our attraction to 'attractive' ( subjective word in itself) people, places and objects - and their attributes.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Víctor Bermúdez

    PREFACE INTRODUCTION BEAUTY 1. What is this thing called beauty? 2. Captivating faces 3. The measure of facial beauty 4. The body beautiful 5. How the brain works 6. Brains behind beauty 7. Evolving beauty 8. Landscapes 9. Numbering beauty 10. The illogic of beauty PLEASURE 1. What is this thing called pleasure? 2. Food 3. Sex 4. Money 5. Liking, wanting, learning 6. The logic of pleasure ART 1. What is this thing called art? 2. Art: Biology and culture 3. Descriptive science of the arts 4. Experimental science of the PREFACE INTRODUCTION BEAUTY 1. What is this thing called beauty? 2. Captivating faces 3. The measure of facial beauty 4. The body beautiful 5. How the brain works 6. Brains behind beauty 7. Evolving beauty 8. Landscapes 9. Numbering beauty 10. The illogic of beauty PLEASURE 1. What is this thing called pleasure? 2. Food 3. Sex 4. Money 5. Liking, wanting, learning 6. The logic of pleasure ART 1. What is this thing called art? 2. Art: Biology and culture 3. Descriptive science of the arts 4. Experimental science of the arts 5. Conceptual art 6. The inception of art 7. Messy minds 8. Evolving art 9. Art: A tail or a song? 10. The serendipity of art

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annina

    As a student of neuroaesthetics and psychology of the arts, I think this is a fantastic introduction to the field. The core question in neuroaesthetics is "Why do we like what we like?" (and what are the neural correlates and potential psychological mechanisms behind that. Great popularisation of science from the leading neuroscientist in this field 🧠 (I listened to it on Audible, but would recommend reading, as the voice was a bit too robot-like to my tasting :) As a student of neuroaesthetics and psychology of the arts, I think this is a fantastic introduction to the field. The core question in neuroaesthetics is "Why do we like what we like?" (and what are the neural correlates and potential psychological mechanisms behind that. Great popularisation of science from the leading neuroscientist in this field 🧠 (I listened to it on Audible, but would recommend reading, as the voice was a bit too robot-like to my tasting :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alexi Parizeau

    Good writting and gentle introductions to a difficult subject. As a student I also appreciated his review of so much of the relevant literature/references. But what made me love this book was the last three chapters; I'm a sucker for new ideas, and Chatterjee delivers with a refreshing paradigm. [First Reading: October 18, 2014] Good writting and gentle introductions to a difficult subject. As a student I also appreciated his review of so much of the relevant literature/references. But what made me love this book was the last three chapters; I'm a sucker for new ideas, and Chatterjee delivers with a refreshing paradigm. [First Reading: October 18, 2014]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emre Senoglu

    Simply brilliant. A great introduction to neuroaesthetics, touching upon a variety of subjects from art and pleasure to science and instincts. The book does a great job in defining beauty and the reasons behind our desire for it, then proceeds onto describing art and its implications. A definite eye opener, written with a clear language and a scientific approach.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lania Rubio

    This is a very interesting and well-written book. Importantly, it makes you think!! Is art an instinct or an evolutionary by-product? or is art something else? I am happy to know that it is still an open question!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dona

    Quick, interesting read. Chatterjee traces the origin of brain functions that cause aesthetic experiences, coming to the conclusion that the relatively new field of neuroaesthetics cannot explain everything when it comes to why humans need art.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brock Ray

    Really only about 3.5 stars, but still worth it in the end. There's a rather pointless interlude on behavioral economics that was thrown in just for filler, but the final conclusions are well worth the wait. Really only about 3.5 stars, but still worth it in the end. There's a rather pointless interlude on behavioral economics that was thrown in just for filler, but the final conclusions are well worth the wait.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    111.85 C4952 2014

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