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The surge of evolutionary and neurological analyses of art and its effects raises questions of how art, culture, and the biological sciences influence one another, and what we gain in applying scientific methods to the interpretation of artwork. In this insightful book, Matthew Rampley addresses these questions by exploring key areas where Darwinism, neuroscience, and art history intersect.
Taking a scientific approach to understanding art has led to novel and provocative ideas about its origins, the basis of aesthetic experience, and the nature of research into art and the humanities. Rampley’s inquiry examines models of artistic development, the theories and development of aesthetic response, and ideas about brain processes underlying creative work. He considers the validity of the arguments put forward by advocates of evolutionary and neuroscientific analysis, as well as its value as a way of understanding art and culture. With the goal of bridging the divide between science and culture, Rampley advocates for wider recognition of the human motivations that drive inquiry of all types, and he argues that our engagement with art can never be encapsulated in a single notion of scientific knowledge.
Engaging and compelling, The Seductions of Darwin is a rewarding look at the identity and development of art history and its complicated ties to the world of scientific thought.