How much do I want to read more? 5/10

This book attempt is a little weird: A scientific approach to describe art.
Art is not rational as science is, so is such an approach doomed to fail?

Connecting beauty and pleasure seems promising and interesting.
This isn't my priority, but I'm still interested.


Have you ever had the experience of being so absorbed by a painting or a piece of music that you lose all sense of space and time? These magical moments in which we lose our sense of self are ironically deeply subjective.

Is the scientist’s desire to generalize across different works of art again missing the magic that can only be found when deeply engaged with particular works?

What makes something beautiful? What emotions does beauty evoke? Aesthetic experiences can be profoundly emotional and are often pleasurable.
How is pleasure, and more generally our experiences of rewards, organized in the brain? Why do we have specific pleasures?

Let’s see if neuroscience and evolutionary psychology can light our way in this labyrinthine world of beauty, pleasure, and art.


If my intuition that most people would find the view beautiful is correct, then is there something universal about my response to its beauty?

Discovering what happens in the brain when we are captivated by beautiful objects won’t completely solve the question of why the objects are beautiful.

But are different pleasures exchanged into a single currency in the brain? Is the pleasure of the scent of a magnolia in anyway similar to that of winning a bet or to admiring a Rothko painting?

So beautiful faces and bodies are tied to our sexual desires and landscapes are tied to our desire for safety.

What would liking without wanting be? It would be a pleasure without an acquisitive impulse. Perhaps this is what it means to have aesthetic pleasure, liking without being contaminated by wanting. What would wanting without liking be? The classic example is drug addiction. Addiction is the prototypic antiaesthetic state.

The idea that art is for art’s sake means that art is not useful for anything. It must be a by-product of other abilities that were useful to our ancestors.


1. What is this thing called beauty?

[quote, John Ruskin]
Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless, peacocks and lilies for instance.

[quote, Chinese Proverb]
When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.