Prof. Matthew Rampley (Masarykova Univerzita Brno): Neither Nature nor Culture: Prospects for Naturalistic Theories of Art
Abstract The question as to whether the capacity for aesthetic appreciation is entirely cultural, or whether it has a biological foundation, seems no closer to resolution than when it was first asked over a century ago. The past decade has seen a revived interest in naturalistic theories that see aesthetic appreciation as an outcome of evolution, a position that has been fiercely attacked by proponents of culturalistic accounts. There is evidence to support both sides in this debate, but its value is also disputed.
In this talk Matthew Rampley approaches the issue in a slightly different way. For the argument seems to rest on a binary opposition between nature and culture. However, various alternative fields of inquiry, such as cognitive archaeology or biosemiotics suggest that the problem lies in our use of these simplistic categories. Exploring the work of thinkers such as Terrence Deacon and Thomas G. Wynn, the lectures considers alternative ways of conceptualising the question, ways that locate some kind of exit out of the dead-end of much of the debate hitherto.