Forschungsarbeit: Empirische Ästhetik

Empirische Ästhetik

Kognitiv-semio­tische Prozesse der Wirklichkeits-Kon­struktion in Alltag, Kunst und Design

Schriften zur Kultur­wissenschaft, Band 117

Hamburg 2016, 294 Seiten
ISBN 978-3-8300-9081-6

Ästhetik, Design, Designtheorie, Emprische Ästhetik, Gestaltpsychologie, Gestalttheorie, Jean Piaget, Kognitive Psychologie, Konstruktivismus, Kulturwissenschaft, Kunstwissenschaft, Modelltheorie, Musikwissenschaft, Philosophie, Psychologie, Semiotik, Thorstein Veblen

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Despite its enormous extent, the philosophical aesthetics seems unable to offer an useful answer to the crucial question: “Why do we find something attractive or beautiful?” However, usefulness is an elementary criterion of any theory (not only for design theory). The capability of predicting is a necessary requirement for any scientific theory, in order to make it falsifiable. The description of facts is not sufficient here. An aesthetic theory has to be applicable to predict decisions (e.g. in design contexts). The normative interpretation what people “should” find attractive isn‘t sufficient at all. Instead, we have to study what people really find beautiful and how our decisions are influenced by this.

Everyday life requires a great number of decisions (as well as daily design practice). Each selection of “something against the backdrop of other possibilities” can be interpreted as an aesthetics preference. The most attractive alternative within a repertoire of alternatives will be selected. Therefore, empirical aesthetics is a necessary part of any serious design theory (which is to be thought in a transdisciplinary manner): “Who selects what in which situation — and why?” A substantial understanding of aesthetic phenomena should enable us to model the explanatory mechanism. Hence, we have to answer the question: “What is the basic mechanism of any aesthetic experience?”

The four studies in this book demonstrate that an answer is possible. Furthermore, it is shown that these answers are relevant in a theoretical as well as in an application-oriented perspective. An original process model of aesthetic perception (“aisthesis”) is developed within the book. This model reveals the importance of expectations, which emerge in top-down-processes. Moreover, it is demonstrated why expectations are crucial both for scientific analysis and design synthesis. The constructivist character of each perception-action shows up here: Aesthetic processes can be interpreted as a self-test of the bio-psycho-social observing system “human”. As a consequence, any artwork-focussing aesthetics has to be rejected because of being a methodological artefact. By contrast, the theory of Integrative Aesthetics is not based on the distinction between “heroic” and “profane” design practices.

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