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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Feeling Beauty

--  By Tom Phillips

What is art for?  Does it have any use at all?  Does it give us anything beyond pleasure, or a momentary release from the cares of life? 

These questions have been around for thousands of years.  Today, there is a burst of renewed interest in them, because they have moved from the realm of philosophical speculation to the solider ground of scientific research.   Here the answers are confirmed not just by experience, but by pictures of brain activity.   And these pictures show us that the experience of beauty is central not just to human pleasure, but to human growth. 

In Feeling Beauty -- The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience,  G. Gabrielle Starr weaves together the language of neuroscience with a deep understanding of the arts, and makes a convincing case that by taking us out of ordinary experience, the arts offer us a window into ourselves – what we are, and what we can become.