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Bioaesthetics: Making Sense of Life in Science and the Arts (Posthumanities #43) (Paperback)
In recent years, bioaesthetics has used the latest discoveries in evolutionary studies and neuroscience to provide new ways of looking at art and aesthetics. Carsten Strathausen’s remarkable exploration of this emerging field is the first comprehensive account of its ideas, as well as a timely critique of its limitations.
Strathausen familiarizes readers with the basics of bioaesthetics, grounding them in its philosophical underpinnings while articulating its key components. Importantly, he delves into the longstanding problem of the “two cultures” that separate the arts and the sciences. Seeking to make bioaesthetics a more robust way of thinking, Strathausen then critiques it for failing to account for science’s historical and cultural assumptions. At its worst, he says, biologism reduces artworks to mere automatons that rubber-stamp pre-established scientific truths.
Written with a sensitive understanding of science’s strengths, and willing to refute its best arguments, Bioaesthetics helps readers separate the sensible from the specious. At a time when humanities departments are shrinking—and when STEM education is on the rise—Bioaesthetics makes vital points about the limitations of science, while lodging a robust defense of the importance of the humanities.
"If you’ve ever wondered how we’ve gotten to the point where virtually every cultural theory field now boasts a ‘bio-’ or ‘neuro-’ subfield, Carsten Strathausen’s Bioaesthetics is an excellent guide. Setting the stage with scrupulous readings of historical controversies, Strathausen then incisively critiques the reductionist ‘biologism’ he finds in ‘literary Darwinism,’ ‘biopoetics,’ ‘neuroaestethics,’ and so on, before judiciously tackling Deleuze and affect theory. A powerful and insightful study, Bioaesthetics rewards the reader with clarifying and careful mappings of important contemporary concepts."—John Protevi, author of Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences