Based on the field of aesthetics, for centuries philosophers and more recently scientists have been concerned with understanding the artistic experience focusing on emotional responses to the perception of artworks. By contrast, in the last decades, evolutionary biology has been concerned with explaining the artistic experience by focusing on the cognitive processes underlying this experience. Up until now, the cognitive mechanisms that allow humans to experience objects and events as art remain largely unexplored and there is still no conventional use of terms for referring to the processes which may explain why the artistic experience is characteristically human and universal to human beings. In this paper, I first question whether it is productive to understand the artistic experience in terms of perception and emotion, and propose a possible alternative explanation to understand this experience. I argue that this experience is characterized by particular degrees of imagination and consciousness.
- artistic experience
- reflective imagination