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Clive Bell's "Significant Form" and the neurobiology of aesthetics.

Zeki S - Front Hum Neurosci (2013)

Bottom Line: Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics.In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics.I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London London, UK.

ABSTRACT
Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics. In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics. I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Modulation of cortical activity by aesthetic rating. Averaged parameter estimates showing modulation by beauty rating (beautiful, indifferent, and ugly) in mOFC for (A) visual stimuli and (B) musical stimuli. A linear relationship with beauty rating was observed in both conditions. From Ishizu and Zeki (2011).
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Figure 2: Modulation of cortical activity by aesthetic rating. Averaged parameter estimates showing modulation by beauty rating (beautiful, indifferent, and ugly) in mOFC for (A) visual stimuli and (B) musical stimuli. A linear relationship with beauty rating was observed in both conditions. From Ishizu and Zeki (2011).

Mentions: The strength of activity in the mOFC is proportional to the declared intensity of the experience, the more intense the declared experience, the more intense the activity (Figure 2). The graphs of Figure 2 are derived from the observed intensity of activity in the mOFC against the declared intensity of the experience of beauty, averaged across subjects, without reference to the actual paintings or musical excerpts that gave rise to the experience. Similar parametric relationships have been observed between strength of activity in mOFC and experience of reward and pleasure in the articles cited above. This is interesting for two reasons. In the first place it gives a neurobiological answer to a question which, though not raised by Bell, has nevertheless been regarded as central in the philosophy of aesthetics, namely whether there can be objective judgments of aesthetic value (Graham, 2000). The novelty here is that the objective judgment relates directly to strength of activity in a precise locus in the brain. It may thus be called subjective, to the extent that it is activity in individual brains relating to private (if declared) experiences, although what one person experiences as beautiful is not necessarily the same as what another person experiences. But it is also objective to the extent (a) that whenever a subject experiences beauty, regardless of source and of culture and education, the mOFC is active and (b) that the activity there is detectable and quantifiable. How this strength of activity is related to strength of activity in what we may loosely call the “sensory” areas of the brain remains to be determined (see below).


Clive Bell's "Significant Form" and the neurobiology of aesthetics.

Zeki S - Front Hum Neurosci (2013)

Modulation of cortical activity by aesthetic rating. Averaged parameter estimates showing modulation by beauty rating (beautiful, indifferent, and ugly) in mOFC for (A) visual stimuli and (B) musical stimuli. A linear relationship with beauty rating was observed in both conditions. From Ishizu and Zeki (2011).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3824150&req=5

Figure 2: Modulation of cortical activity by aesthetic rating. Averaged parameter estimates showing modulation by beauty rating (beautiful, indifferent, and ugly) in mOFC for (A) visual stimuli and (B) musical stimuli. A linear relationship with beauty rating was observed in both conditions. From Ishizu and Zeki (2011).
Mentions: The strength of activity in the mOFC is proportional to the declared intensity of the experience, the more intense the declared experience, the more intense the activity (Figure 2). The graphs of Figure 2 are derived from the observed intensity of activity in the mOFC against the declared intensity of the experience of beauty, averaged across subjects, without reference to the actual paintings or musical excerpts that gave rise to the experience. Similar parametric relationships have been observed between strength of activity in mOFC and experience of reward and pleasure in the articles cited above. This is interesting for two reasons. In the first place it gives a neurobiological answer to a question which, though not raised by Bell, has nevertheless been regarded as central in the philosophy of aesthetics, namely whether there can be objective judgments of aesthetic value (Graham, 2000). The novelty here is that the objective judgment relates directly to strength of activity in a precise locus in the brain. It may thus be called subjective, to the extent that it is activity in individual brains relating to private (if declared) experiences, although what one person experiences as beautiful is not necessarily the same as what another person experiences. But it is also objective to the extent (a) that whenever a subject experiences beauty, regardless of source and of culture and education, the mOFC is active and (b) that the activity there is detectable and quantifiable. How this strength of activity is related to strength of activity in what we may loosely call the “sensory” areas of the brain remains to be determined (see below).

Bottom Line: Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics.In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics.I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London London, UK.

ABSTRACT
Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics. In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics. I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus