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From Absorption to Judgment: Empathy in Aesthetic Response

Freedberg, David A.

In this chapter, Freedberg sets out to establish a more rigorous basis for the understanding of empathy, and proposes a novel hypothesis about the neural substrate of judgment. After discussing the history of empathy in aesthetic theory and the frequently ambiguous conceptualizations of aesthetic judgment within cognitive neuroscience of art, he confines empathy to the domain of motor responses. Moving on to examine the role of immediate and automatic bodily reactions both in the perception of visual images and in aesthetic response, he emphasizes the precognitive dimension of empathy and its place in the understanding of such responses. He distinguishes empathy from sympathy by assessing the degree of cognitive content of each. Finally, he shows how these positions enable a new neural theory of aesthetic judgment predicated on the modulation of bottom-up responses, the ensual of self-awareness, and the detachment from absorption essential for judgment.


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Also Published In

Empathy: Epistemic Problems and Cultural-Historical Perspectives of a Cross-Disciplinary Concept
Palgrave MacMillan

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Italian Academy
Palgrave MacMillan
Published Here
October 17, 2017