The traditional philosophical aesthetic study established by Plato aimed to discover the “beauty” within “beautiful things.” However, the underlying assumptions were not based on scientific evidence and, thus, were unlikely to be fruitful. In contrast to Plato, Kant established the aesthetic cognitive method in aesthetics, which explored aesthetic mechanism in human cognitive activities. This approach gained support from modern cognitive neuroscience. The cognitive module hypothesis proposed by Chinese cognitive neuroscientists suggests that everything is an integration of intrinsic value and extrinsic manifestation. When objects perceived as valuable for individuals arouse positive emotional responses, their appearances will trigger positive emotional responses at all times. In this way, by reinforcing an object’s advantages, the neural structure that perceives the appearance of objects and the corresponding structure of an emotional response connect to become the cognitive module of particular objects and their appearances. Once cognitive modules are formed, individuals intuitively form a corresponding aesthetic pleasure when seeing the appearances of objects that match the cognitive modules. Therefore, the reason that certain objects arouse aesthetic pleasure is not that there is “beauty” within them but because their appearances match the cognitive modules that previously formed in the human brain.


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pp. 71-80
Launched on MUSE
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