Mariagrazia Portera and Mauro Mandrioli
Tastes of the Parents: Epigenetics and its Role in Evolutionary Aesthetics
Evolutionary Aesthetics is a bourgeoning and thriving sub-field of Aesthetics, the main aim of which is “the importation of aesthetics into natural sciences, and especially its integration into the heuristic of Darwin’s evolutionary theory.” Scholars working in the field attempt to determine through the adoption of an interdisciplinary research methodology whether and to what extent Darwinian evolution can shed light on our capacity to have aesthetic experiences, make aesthetic judgments (both of art and natural beauty), and produce literary, visual, musical artworks. Notwithstanding Evolutionary Aesthetics’ growing popularity in the past two decades, a look into the state of current research suggests a significant degree of haziness in the field from both epistemological-methodological and theoretical points of view. The main aim of the present paper is to make a first step towards a revision and extension of the discipline by assessing the role and potential of epigenetics in evolutionarily inspired aesthetic research. Epigenetics is among the youngest and most fascinating research fields in contemporary biology. But one of the most significant occurrences of the word “epigenesis” (the closest “ancestor” of contemporary “epigenetics”) is in Immanuel Kant’s third Critique, his aesthetic masterpiece. What might be the relationship between epigenetics and aesthetics? What is the role of epigenetic mechanisms in the development and functioning of aesthetic behavior in humans?
- aesthetic preferences
- environmental inheritance
- brain development
- evolutionary psychology
Mariagrazia Portera and Mauro Mandrioli, “Tastes of the Parents: Epigenetics and its Role in Evolutionary Aesthetics,” Evental Aesthetics 4, no. 2 (2015): 46-76.