Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 26, 2018

Art is not special: an assault on the last lines of defense against the naturalization of the human mind

Martin Skov and Marcos Nadal


The assumption that human cognition requires exceptional explanations holds strong in some domains of behavioral and brain sciences. Scientific aesthetics in general, and neuroaesthetics in particular, abound with claims for art-specific cognitive or neural processes. This assumption fosters a conceptual structure disconnected from other fields and biases the sort of processes to be studied. More generally, assuming that art is special is to cling to the idea that some aspect of our species’ mental constitution makes us unique, special, and meaningful. This assumption continues to relegate scientific aesthetics to the periphery of science and hampers a naturalized view of the human mind.


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Received: 2017-10-12
Accepted: 2017-10-30
Published Online: 2018-01-26
Published in Print: 2018-08-28

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