First published in 1999, this study begins with a review of basic biological functions, stressing the importance to the organism of various kinds of information. The 'biology of information' must consider how the brain reacts to new, as contrasted with expected, inputs; these differences are discussed chiefly in relation to language. In language processing predictability is of prime importance, but to clarify what this entails it is necessary to consider just how our concepts are organized. Personal construct theory throws considerable light on this question, but is less informative about fantasy, which requires separate exploration. The main chapter focuses on the origins and interpretation of metaphor, in which quite disparate concepts are united but which we understand nevertheless. Existing theories of metaphor are unsatisfactory, but personal construct theory again helps resolve the psychological-linguistic issues. Finally, the question is raised as to why a good metaphor produces a response which is recognizably aesthetic in character, and its implications for our aesthetic responses to other art forms are explored.
Table of Contents
1. The Scope of Aesthetics. 2. The Biology of Information. 3. Personal Knowledge and Personal Constructs. 4. Language, Fantasy and Psychoanalysis. 5. The Nature of Metaphor. 6. The Aesthetic Response.
’Explorations of the biological basis of ethics are nothing new. The biological basis of aesthetics, on the other hand, is a field that has only recently begun to be explored and is drawing increasing amounts of attention, especially in the USA. Its practitioners are few, however, because it requires a combination of aesthetic sensibility, scientific rigour and conceptual sophistication, which is rare. This book combines all three. The author shows himself to be thoroughly at home in the diverse set of fields which his undertaking requires, and at the same time writes with clarity and elegance throughout. This work, it seems likely, will prove as valuable as it is novel.’ Professor Gordon Graham, Department of Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, UK 'Norman Kreitman has offered us a useful and perceptive survey of recent literature on metaphor...' British Journal of Aesthetics