A philosopher makes the case for thinking of works of art as tools for investigating ourselves
In his new book, Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature, the philosopher and cognitive scientist Alva Noë raises a number of profound questions: What is art? Why do we value art as we do? What does art reveal about our nature? Drawing on philosophy, art history, and cognitive science, and making provocative use of examples from all three of these fields, Noë offers new answers to such questions. He also shows why recent efforts to frame questions about art in terms of neuroscience and evolutionary biology alone have been and will continue to be unsuccessful.
Western art abounds with depictions of the nursing mother. The display of the Mother and Child is central to Christian religious thinking, so this isn't surprising. But it may be that pictures...
Praise for Strange Tools
“As a neurologist, confronted every day by questions of mind, self, consciousness, and their basis, I find Alva Noë's concepts both astounding and convincing.” —Oliver Sacks, Columbia University Medical Center on Alva Noë
“Organisms organize their interaction with their environments. Human beings can consciously organize and reorganize that interaction. Making, appreciating, and talking about art are among the ways that human beings do this, and are thus characteristic of human life itself. On these simple but undeniable truths, gleaned from a career in philosophy and a lifetime in the arts, Alva Noe builds a devastating critique of contemporary 'neuroaesthetics' and an illuminating account of the role of art in the human conversation. This is a work in the grand tradition of John Dewey's Art as Experience and one of the most important books in that tradition since Dewey's own.” —Paul Guyer, Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Brown University-