How Art Reveals the Limits of Neuroscience

By Alva Noë You go to a gallery. The work is strange. You don’t know the artist. You aren’t familiar with the style. The pictures all look the same. Flat and dull. They fail to capture your attention. You move on to the next room. You give your energy to your date. But what if your friend knows this work and she invites you to stop and look again? She calls your attention to features. She suggests questions for you to ask about patterns and relationship, color and content, as well as about the artist’s intent, influences, milieu, and preoccupations. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, something remarkable happens. Where all the pieces looked alike, now they start to stand out individually. Where they were flat, now you see depth. Where they…

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