Arnellos, A., & Xenakis, I. (2017). Aesthetic perception: A naturalistic turn. New Ideas in Psychology. doi:10.1016/j.newideapsych.2017.06.002
Nowadays, aesthetics are generally considered as a crucial aspect that affects the way we confront things, events, and states of affairs. However, the functional role of aesthetics in the interaction between agent and environment has not been addressed effectively. Our objective here is to provide an explanation concerning the role of aesthetics, and especially, of the aesthetic experience as a fundamental bodily and emotional activity in the respective interactions. An explanation of the functional role of the aesthetic experience could offer new orientations to our understanding of embodied cognition and of aesthetics as a fundamental part of it. We argue that aesthetic experience, especially its emotional dimension, is an evaluative process that influences the anticipation for stable and successful interactions with the environment. In other words, aesthetics facilitates sense-making as they affect what might be anticipated by an action tendency with respect to an environment.
Citation: Xenakis, I., & Arnellos, A. (2015). Aesthetics as an Emotional Activity That Facilitates Sense-Making: Towards an Enactive Approach to Aesthetic Experience. In A. Scarinzi (Ed.), Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind: Beyond Art Theory and the Cartesian Mind-Body Dichotomy (pp. 245–259). Springer Netherlands. doi 10.1007/978-94-017-9379-7_15
I’m very pleased to announce a new publication on Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology of Frontiers in Psychology entitled: Aesthetic perception and its minimal content: a naturalistic perspective with my colleague Arnellos Argyris.
Aesthetic perception is one of the most interesting topics for philosophers and scientists who investigate how it influences our interactions with objects and states of affairs. Over the last few years, several studies have attempted to determine “how aesthetics is represented in an object,” and how a specific feature of an object could evoke the respective feelings during perception. Despite the vast number of approaches and models, we believe that these explanations do not resolve the problem concerning the conditions under which aesthetic perception occurs, and what constitutes the content of these perceptions. Adopting a naturalistic perspective, we here view aesthetic perception as a normative process that enables agents to enhance their interactions with physical and socio-cultural environments. Considering perception as an anticipatory and preparatory process of detection and evaluation of indications of potential interactions (what we call ‘interactive affordances’), we argue that the minimal content of aesthetic perception is an emotionally valued indication of interaction potentiality. Aesthetic perception allows an agent to normatively anticipate interaction potentialities, thus increasing sense making and reducing the uncertainty of interaction. This conception of aesthetic perception is compatible with contemporary evidence from neuroscience, experimental aesthetics, and interaction design. The proposed model overcomes several problems of transcendental, art-centered, and objective aesthetics as it offers an alternative to the idea of aesthetic objects that carry inherent values by explaining ‘the aesthetic’ as emergent in perception within a context of uncertain interaction.
Keywords: aesthetic perception, Emotions, anticipation, perceptual content, interactive affordance, agency, normativity
Exploring emotions, in terms of their evolutionary origin; their basic neurobiological substratum, and their functional significance in autonomous agents, we propose a model of minimal functionality of emotions. Our aim is to provide a naturalized explanation – mostly based on an interactivist model of emergent representation and appraisal theory of emotions – concerning basic aesthetic emotions in the formation of aesthetic judgment. We suggest two processes the Cognitive Variables Subsystem (CVS) which is fundamental for the accomplishment of the function of heuristic learning; and Aesthetic Appraisal Subsystem (AAS) which primarily affects the elicitation of aesthetic emotional meanings. These two subsystems (CVS and AAS) are organizationally connected and affect the action readiness of the autonomous agent. More specifically, we consider the emotional outcome of these two subsystems as a functional indication that strengthens or weakens the anticipation for the resolution of the dynamic uncertainty that emerges in the particular interaction.