Perhaps nowhere is the interdependence of humanistic enquiry and experimental investigation more intertwined than in the study of one of the most ubiquitous of (subjective) human experiences—that of beauty; it serves as a powerful ground, as well as an example, for uniting the humanistic and neurobiological approaches. Neuroesthetics does not enquire into what beauty is and does
not (contrary to common belief) confound it with art. It also acknowledges the importance of culture and learning in shaping aesthetic experience. But its primary concern at present is to understand the neural mechanisms that allow all humans, regardless of race or culture, to experience beauty. Since an aesthetic experience implies having made a judgment, it also aims to unravel the neural systems underlying aesthetic judgments and PI3K Inhibitor Library manufacturer address the question, first posed by Kant, of whether aesthetic judgments precede or succeed aesthetic experiences. In short, like the art critic Clive Bell, neuroesthetics seeks to understand what, in aesthetic experience, is “common
to all and peculiar to none” (Bell, 1914), which is not to deny that, superimposed upon the commonality, there are subjective differences in experiences that science must account for. It was, after Cytidine deaminase all, a philosopher, Edmund Burke, who defined beauty in significantly neurobiological find protocol terms, as being “largely a property of objects acting upon the human mind through the intervention of the senses” ( Burke, 1757, my emphasis). Today, much of the inspiration for the paradigms used to study the neurobiology of aesthetic experience, whether acknowledged or not, comes from philosophical
studies. Though Bell thought of aesthetic experience as a “purely subjective business,” he, like others before and after him, sought for “objective” characteristics that constitute an essential ingredient of beauty. Whether such a characteristic exists has been debated but without a consensus. This is not surprising. Symmetry, for example, is not considered to be characteristic of beauty in all cultures; it does not therefore qualify as a characteristic that is “common to all and peculiar to none.” Characteristics such as proportion or size, though of importance in domains such as architecture, are meaningless when applied to the aesthetics of, for example, color. As well, there is the functional specialization in the brain and in vision, for example, different areas of the (visual) brain are specialized to process different attributes such as color, motion, and form (Zeki, 1978 and Zeki et al., 1991).