By Murray Smith

Within the mid-1950s C.P. Snow started his crusade opposed to the 'two cultures' - the debilitating divide, as he observed it, among conventional 'literary highbrow' tradition, and the tradition of the sciences, urging as an alternative a 'third tradition' which might draw upon and combine the assets of disciplines spanning the average and social sciences, the humanities and the arts. Murray Smith argues that, with the Read more...

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Murray Smith provides an unique method of realizing movie. He brings the humanities, humanities, and sciences jointly to light up inventive production and aesthetic adventure. His 'third culture' Read more...

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Empirical research has little or no capacity to reshape the landscape of aesthetic explanation. Commenting in this spirit on neuroscience in particular, for example, Greg Currie expresses doubt that such research has the capacity to ‘reorganize . . 28 Even in this compressed description, there is much that is right about this picture. That is why it has come to be an orthodoxy and why it is hard to dislodge. But for all that, it is at best a flawed and incomplete picture. A grain of truth is heavily watered by tradition, and grows into a forest of entrenched assumption, making it difficult for other truths to find any light.

The coping facilitated by the formal properties of artworks is at once internally directed (in that it involves a transformation of our emotional experience) and externally directed (in that it is an object of perception, namely the artwork itself, that enables this transformation). We thus have the following dialectic: Bullough posits the concept ‘aesthetic distance’ which aims to capture a distinctive feature of aesthetic experience (a concept strongly reminiscent of earlier concepts, including Kant’s notion of ‘disinterest’); Dickie argues that the concept fails to refer to a real psychological process, and is in this sense a ‘myth’; Robinson responds that ‘aesthetic distance’ may be understood as a type of emotional coping, where it is attention to the form (of a work of art, or a natural phenomenon) that plays the critical role.

44 I frequently use the term ‘understanding’ in just this sense, across this work; and where I use the term without further qualification, this is the sense of ‘understanding’ that I intend. The explanatory focus of naturalism, however, is commonly contrasted with the aim of facilitating ‘understanding’ (Verstehen) defined as a distinct method characteristic of the interpretative disciplines typical of the humanities. And according to another tradition of thought, empathy (the focus of Chapter 7) is the primary route to such understanding.

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