From Aesthetic to Epistemic Structures and back: Complex Dynamics between Art and Science

Fausto Fraisopi


We often forget that art and science are not dissociated, nor indeed antagonistic, but rather allow a creative interplay to emerge from which arises the generation of new forms of knowledge (Miller [1995]: 190). According to Parkinson, “the analogy between the new painting and the new physics consists in that elements formerly held as cognitive or conceptual a-prioris enter as constitutive factors in the very structure of the edifices of art and science” (Parkinson [2008]: 161). How exactly does it work? If for us nowadays it’s relatively easy to think of the mimetic moment of art as a prelude to geometry, it is not so trivial to claim how higher-order representational symbolic epistemic structures (h.o.r.s.e.s.) arise from the lifeworld, or simply how both interact together. The aim of this paper is to stake out the complexity of processes going from the lifeworld and, before that, from the life of pictorial language, to h.o.r.s.e.s., in order to apply this model to further enquiries. In the first part, we will reactivate the Kantian interdependence between aesthetics and epistemology via the intersubjective dimension, in order to understand how the shaping of forms and the figuring-out patterns remain an essential component of any epistemic structure as such. In the second part, moving from Hacking, Husserl and Foucault, we will look into the way in which the evidence of symbolic structures can be maintained even alongside a genetic conception of science. Art plays an essential role in such a conception, in that it opens new horizons of figurativity in which new shapes can arise and new kinds of objectivities (Gegenständlichkeiten) can be accepted as belonging to our epistemic experience of the world.


Symbolic Structures; Aesthetic Dimension; History of Science; Kant

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