Down with neuroaesthetics!!


It is important not to suggest that it is only in rather special states of creativity – say, reading or writing poems – that we are distanced from animals. This is a mistake. We are different from animals in every waking moment of our lives. The bellowing on the lavatory that I referred to earlier demonstrates a huge gulf between us and our nearest animal kin. But if we deny this difference (invoking chimps etc) even in the case of creativity – and the appreciation of works of art – then no distance remains. That is why one would expect critics to be on the side of the poets, with their sense of this complexity, rather than siding with the terribles simplificateurs of scientism…

Neuroaesthetics is wrong about the present state of neuroscience: we are not yet able to explain human consciousness, even less articulate self-consciousness as expressed in the reading and writing of poetry. It is wrong about our experience of literature. And it is wrong about humanity.

more from the TLS here.