Machine learning theory is shedding new light on how to think about the mysterious and ineffable nature of art

Peli Grietzer in Aeon:

Two hundred years ago, the poets and philosophers of the Romantic movement came to an intoxicating thought: art can express the otherwise inexpressible conditions that make everyday sense and experience possible. Art, the Romantics said, is our interface with the real patterns and relations that weave up the world of rational thought and perception. And, although most philosophers and artists today don’t profess to taking this idea very literally, I believe that not much in our current way of caring about literature and music, film and painting, dance and sculpture, works without it. My purpose here is to show that today’s first blushings of a mathematical viewpoint on pattern, mind and (human) world make the Romantic theory of art literally plausible.

Many will find the thought of letting machine learning theory decide the fate of Romantic philosophy sinister or contrarian, if not a category error. To make real sense of the affordances of this encounter – and to learn that a mathematical-empirical account of mind was inside the Romantics all along – we need to start from the beginning.

More here.