Naturalist trends in current aesthetics


Aesthetic naturalism
evolutionary aesthetics
enactivist aesthetics
pragmatist aesthetics


In this paper we investigate some important trends in contemporary naturalist aesthetics in relation to two decisive issues. Firstly, it is important to explicitly clarify what kind of naturalism is at stake within the debate, more specifically whether an account of the topic involves forms of physical reductionism, emergentism, and/or continuistic views of art and culture with nature. Secondly, we argue that it is necessary to define what conception of art is assumed as paradigmatic: whether this conception deals with basically autonomist approaches to art, assuming aesthetic experience to coincide with the disinterested contemplation of formal features, independently of cognitive, practical, and ethical implications, or whether the arts are considered an enhancement of the features of human expe- rience and developments of other human behaviours. The second part of the paper will investigate some recent developments in current neuroaesthetics and fresh enactivist proposals in the aesthetic field which display a tendency toward a non-reductive naturalism, views of the arts as continuous with other modes of behav- iour and more conscious attitudes about the risks of scientism within scientific in- vestigations. Generally speaking, we espouse an idea of culture as the natural development of human organic experience that involves new emerging properties depending on the re-organization of already existing natural resources and favour continuistic and emergentist views as more suited to dealing with specific prob- lems in the field of the arts and as better responding to the criticism of irrelevancy directed against the latter, compared to reductive naturalist approaches.