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The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

A chatty and engaging read on the topic of "neuroaesthetics" and the science behind beauty and pleasure. I recommend this book to anyone who ever wondered whether or not we evolved to appreciate and make art. Or for someone asking themselves why it is that beauty and aesthetic experiences are so central to being being human.

-- Elise

— From Elise's Staff Picks


The Aesthetic Brain takes readers on an exciting journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Using the latest advances in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, Anjan Chatterjee investigates how an aesthetic sense is etched into our minds, and explains why artistic concerns feature centrally in our lives. Along the way, Chatterjee addresses such fundamental questions as: What is beauty? Is it universal? How is beauty related to pleasure? What is art? Should art be beautiful? Do we have an instinct for art?

Early on, Chatterjee probes the reasons why we find people, places, and even numbers beautiful, highlighting the important relationship between beauty and pleasure. Examining our pleasures allows him to reveal why we enjoy things like food, sex, and money, and how these rewards relate to our aesthetic encounters. Chatterjee's detailed discussion of beauty and pleasure equips readers to confront essential questions about the nature of art, the problems of defining it, and the challenges of interpreting its modern, non-traditional forms. Replete with facts, anecdotes, and analogies, this lively empirical guide to aesthetics offers scientific answers to fundamental questions without deflating the intrinsic wonders of beauty and art in an affordable paperback edition.

About the Author

Anjan Chatterjee, M.D., is Professor of Neurology, and a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves on the editorial boards of Empirical Studies of the Arts; Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology; Behavioural Neurology; Neuropsychology; Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience; European Neurology; The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society; American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience; Brain Science; and Policy Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology. In 2002, he was awarded the Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology by the American Academy of Neurology. He is President of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics and President of the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Society. His neurology practice focuses on patients with cognitive disorders while his research involves spatial cognition, language, ethics, and aesthetics. He has published more than 125 peer-reviewed papers and is the coeditor of Neuroethics in Practice: Medicine, Mind, and Society.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780190262013
ISBN-10: 019026201X
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: September 2015
Pages: 248
Language: English
image created by sara mcnally | constellation & co | seattle, wa
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