Collaboration in the Third Culture

in Projections
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In Film, Art, and the Third Culture, Murray Smith articulates and defends a naturalized aesthetics of film that exemplifies a “third culture,” integrating the insights and methods of the natural sciences with those of the arts and humanities. By contrast with skeptics, who reject the relevance of psychology and neuroscience to the study of film and art, I agree with Smith that we should embrace the third-cultural project. However, I argue here that Smith does not go far enough in developing this project. In defending the contribution of the natural sciences to film aesthetics as traditionally conceived in the arts and humanities, Smith focuses on only one side of the equation, unduly limiting the potential contribution of the arts and humanities to the scientific study of film. Using the example of emotional responses to fiction film, I propose that we adopt a more genuinely integrative approach.