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The Power of the Image

Emotion, Expression, Explanation


András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri

We think primarily in images, and only secondarily in words, while both the image and the word are preceded by the bodily, the visceral, the muscular. This holds even for mathematical thinking. It is the entire motor system, including facial expressions and bodily gestures, that underlies not just emotions but also abstract thought. Communication, too, is a primordially visual task, spoken and written language only gradually supplementing and even supplanting the pictorial. Writing liberates, but also enslaves; after centuries of a dominantly verbal culture, today the ease of producing and accessing digital images amounts to a homecoming of the visual, with the almost limitless online availability of our textual heritage completing the educational revolution of the 21st century.
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Seeing Paintings As They Are: Cognitivity of Aesthetic Qualities


Monika Jovanović

The question whether experiencing or perceiving aesthetic qualities (such as beautiful and sublime or elegant, delicate and moving) is a matter of knowledge, intrigued philosophers since the beginnings of modern aesthetics. Even when they did not formulate their subjects in this manner, they were interested in questions like: what does it mean to say that an object has some aesthetic property? Do these qualities “really” exist in the object or do we just perceive it as if it had those features? Or, questions like: can aesthetic judgments be true or false? How can we know that we are not mistaken when we ascribe an aesthetic quality to an item, claiming, for example, that a painting is lifeless or that it is, on the contrary, vivid? Can we decide who is right and who is wrong when we differ among ourselves about the aesthetic value of an artwork or with respect to the beauty of a natural object? Having abandoned the old idea that beauty is an inherent property of an object and replacing it with a relationist view of the beautiful, British philosophers of the 18th century were faced with a difficulty: how to deal with subjectivist implications of such a view and, consequently, to refute aesthetic relativism. The most influential of these positions was that of David Hume. In his essay “Of the Standard of Taste”, he writes that we have to appeal to the assertions made by good critics if we are to discern...

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