On the epigenesis of the aesthetic mind

the sense of beauty from survival to supervenience

Fabrizio Desideri

pp. 63-82

What is the origin and meaning of our aesthetic sense? Is it genetically encoded or is it culturally inherited? The aim of the essay is to answer to such issues by defining the emergent and meta-functional character of the aesthetic attitude. First, I propose to include the faculty of desire in the free play of the cognitive faculties at the center of Kant’s Critique of Judgment. The following step is given by a brief analysis of Darwin’s controversial remarks on the pre-human birth of aesthetics and its relationship with sexual selection (§§ 1-2). The point of discontinuity between a mere animal aesthetic sense and a proto-human one is then found to become indeterminate of desire in the correlative diversification of aesthetic attractors (§§ 3-4). Successively, I deal with the supervenience character of the aesthetic and its anticipatory value. After a short genealogy of the notion of supervenience, I then develop its affinity with that of epigenesis (§§ 5-6). Afterwhich follows a review of two contemporary evolutionary perspectives on aesthetics: T. Deacon’s essay on the “aesthetic faculty” and J. Tooby and L. Cosmides thesis on the evolutionary meaning of the aesthetic-fictional activities (§§ 7-8). Conclusively, the epigenesis of an aesthetic mind is considered as the unity between the breath of aísthesis and the breath of linguistic sign (§§ 9-10).

Publication details

DOI: 10.4000/estetica.1436

Full citation:

Desideri, F. (2013). On the epigenesis of the aesthetic mind: the sense of beauty from survival to supervenience. Rivista di estetica 54, pp. 63-82.

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