Making the Difference: John Dewey and the Naturalization of Aesthetics

Jean-Pierre Cometti


The “Neuronal man”, as Changeux has called him, is now credited with an aesthetic mind. This mind is not the “Geist” of the philosophical tradition. The cognitive sciences have took over from philosophy and now they deal with art and aesthetics as they do with whatever aspect of human thought, experience and activity. Philosophers like Kant were interested in the empirical sources of beauty, but for him empirical features of its development did not change anything at all to its very essence. The naturalism implemented in the philosophy of mind and sciences of cognition has changed the terms of the question, so that the main point in discussion is whether aesthetic experience can be explained in terms of  brain and/or computational process or whether it should be considered as irreductible to empirical or physical facts. These debates can be seen as new and interesting, but they drive directly to an aporia reminding in a certain way the old debate between the "Sons of the ground" and the "Friends of ideas".


Aesthetic Mind; John Dewey; Experience; Naturalization; Pragmatism

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