Brain Intersections of Aesthetics and Morals: Perspectives from Biology, Neuroscience, and Evolution


For centuries, only philosophers debated the relationship between aesthetics and morality. Recently, with advances in neuroscience, the debate has moved to include the brain and an evolved neural underpinning linking aesthetic reactions and moral judgment. Biological survival emphasizes mate selection strategies, and the ritual displays have been linked to human aesthetics in the arts, in faces, and in various daily decision making. In parallel, cultural human practices have evolved to emphasize altruism and morality. This article explores the biological background and discusses the neuroscientific evidence for shared brain pathways for aesthetics and morals.