Attentional Engines: A Perceptual Theory of the Arts

ISBN : 9780190662158

William P. Seeley
288 ページ
156 x 156 mm

What is it about art that can be so captivating? How is it that we find value in the often odd and abstract objects and events we call artworks? William P. Seeley proposes that artworks are attentional engines. They are artifacts that have been intentionally designed to direct attention to critical stylistic features that reveal their point, purpose, or meaning. In developing this view, Seeley argues that there is a lot we can learn about the value of art from interdisciplinary research focused on our perceptual engagement with artworks. Recent breakthroughs in cognitive science and behavioral science can explain how we recognize artworks and how we differentiate them from more quotidian artifacts. Seeley pushes this line of reasoning, showing how cognitive science can help reveal the way artworks function as a unique source of value. He argues that our interactions with artworks draw on a broad base of shared artistic and cultural norms constitutive of different categories of art. Cognitive systems integrate this information into our experience of art, guiding attention and shaping what we perceive. Our understanding and appreciation of artworks is therefore carried in our perceptual experience of them. Attentional Engines explores the pitfalls and potential of this interdisciplinary strategy for understanding art. It articulates a cognitivist theory of art grounded in perceptual psychology and neuroscience and demonstrates its application to a range of puzzles in the philosophy of the arts. This includes questions about the nature of depiction, the role played by metakinesis in dance appreciation, the nature of musical expression, and the power of movies. The interdisciplinary and provocative theories Seeley presents will appeal to scholars and students interested in aesthetics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of art, and cognitive science.


List of Figures and Illustrations
Color Plates
Section I
Chapter 1: Seeking Salience: Art, Meaning, and Perception
Chapter 2: Seeking Salience: A Diagnostic Recognition Framework for Engaging Art
Chapter 3: Concepts and Categories of Art: A Very Brief Primer
Section II
Chapter 4: Diagnosticity and the Problem of Depiction
Chapter 5: Metakinesis and the Average Dance Audience
Chapter 6: Musical Expression: Mammals and Music Amount Others
Chapter 7: Cognitivism at the Movies
Section III
Chapter 8: Fixing Testadura's Error
Chapter 9: Staying Optimistic
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William P. Seeley is a Visiting Scholar at Boston College and an Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire, Manchester. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from CUNY-The Graduate Center, an M.F.A. in sculpture from Columbia University, and a B.A. in philosophy from Columbia University. His research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy of art, cognitive science, and embodied cognition. He is also a sculptor. His welded steel constructions have been exhibited in New York City and at a number of colleges and university galleries including a solo show of outdoor works at Ezra Stiles College at Yale University. He also worked as Head Assistant to Ursula Von Rydingsvard in New York City. The installations he was involved with include work with include work currently on exhibit at the Storm King Art Center in New York and the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.