Coming out of the Shadows: Thinking about Aesthetic Psychology at Chauvet Cave
In her guest lecture Professor Elisabeth Schellekens Dammann examins and analyse the mental abilities that need to be in place in order for aesthetic experience to occur. She does so by studying some cave paintings at Chauvet Cave in Southern France, dating back some 30,000 years.
What kind of mind is the aesthetic mind; what are its defining marks? This paper sets out to examine and analyse the mental abilities that need to be in place in order for aesthetic experience to occur. It does so by studying some cave paintings at Chauvet Cave in Southern France, dating back some 30,000 years. Why did our ancestors represent these scenes with aesthetic qualities? What role can aesthetic value play in this representational process? Perhaps most pertinently for us philosophers: what can this tell us about aesthetic experience, the role of pleasure in such experience, and art as epistemic pursuit? I will focus on two contrasting views about the original function of art - (i) art as adaptation and (ii) art as spandrel - and discuss the relation between aesthetic value and cognitive value in art.
Elisabeth Schellekens is Chair Professor of Aesthetics in the Philosophy Department at the University of Uppsala and Honorary Professor at the University of Durham.
Since 2007 she is Editor (with John Hyman) of the British Journal of Aesthetics. She is the author of Aesthetics and Morality (Continuum 2007) and Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art (Routledge 2009, with Peter Goldie) and has published on aesthetic properties, the normativity of aesthetic judgement, Kant, aesthetic sensibility, empirical approaches to aesthetics, and the interaction of cognitive, moral and aesthetic value in art.