Film, Art, and the Third Culture

A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film—Précis

in Projections
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Abstract

In this overview of my recent book, I outline its main themes, questions, and arguments. Part 1 explores the applicability of philosophical naturalism to aesthetics and the arts. Searching for the principles that might under-gird a naturalistic or “third cultural” approach to the arts, I defend a model of “triangulation” that seeks consilience among phenomenological, psychological, and neurophysiological evidence and that relates to two further strategies: “thick explanation,” combining personal and “subpersonal” levels of analysis, and “theory construction,” conceived as an empirically oriented alternative to conceptual analysis. Part 2 examines emotion in the arts and in film as a relevant and fertile territory for a naturalized aesthetics, in relation to Charles Darwin’s account of the expression of the emotions, niche construction, and the theory of the “extended mind.”

Contributor Notes

Murray Smith is Professor of Film at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, where he has taught since 1992. He is a founding member of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image, and served as president from 2014 to 2017. For 2017–2018, he was a Laurance S. Rockefeller Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values. When not occupied with bureaucratic tasks or reading really difficult books, he still enjoys visiting the local picture house. Email: m.s.smith@kent.ac.uk