264 pages, 3 tables
The Indispensable Excess of the Aesthetic: An Evolution of Sensibility in Nature traces the evolution of sensibility from the most primal indications detectable at the level of cellular receptors and plant tendril sensitivity, animal creativity and play to cultural ramifications.
Taking on Darwin's insistence against Wallace that animals do have a sense of beauty, and on recent evolutionary observations, The Indispensable Excess of the Aesthetic compellingly argues that sensibility is a biological faculty that emerges together with life. It argues that there is appreciation and discernment of quality, order, and meaning by organisms in various species determined by their morphological adaptations and environmental conditions. Drawing upon Baumgarten's foundational definition of aesthetics as scientia cognitionis sensitivae, The Indispensable Excess of the Aesthetic proposes a non-anthropocentric approach to aesthetics as well as the use of empirical evidence to sustain its claims updating aesthetic understanding with contemporary biosemiotic and evolutionary theory.
The text leads us along three distinct but entwined areas: from the world of matter to that of living matter to the realm of cultivated living matter for exploring how and why sensibility could have evolved. It points out that aspects traditionally used to demarcate and characterize human aesthetics – such as appreciation of symmetry, proportion and color, as well as pleasure, valuation and empathy, sensory seduction, creativity, and skills for representation, even fiction – are present not only in humans but among a variety of plant and animal species.
"Philosophical aesthetics is now in a new age. One of the main subjects of the New Aesthetic is the theory of aesthesis (perception/feeling). Katya Mandoki offers a daring new version of this theory. In a sense, the author tries to answer the questions: why is the beautiful beautiful? What is the very origin of art? The field of her argument is, of course, the theory of evolution, with the main reference being Darwin, philosophy's confrontation with the sciences, and many different forms of knowledge so as to dazzle us: 'exuberance' as the subject of the book is performed."
– Ken-ichi Sasaki, University of Tokyo
Chapter 1: Aesthesis
Chapter 2: Orbis Primus
Chapter 3: Orbis Secundus
Chapter 4: Orbis Tertius
Chapter 5: Excess
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Katya Mandoki teaches aesthetics and semiotics at the Autonomous Metropolitan University.