Alva Noe on Art

Alva Noë thinks the arts can actually teach us about ourselves, our lot in life, and our experience of the world around us. While this might seem like an unremarkable claim, among philosophers of art, this is no trivial thesis. As one kind of aesthetic cognitivist, Noë is thereby denying that the arts are primarily about, say, expressions of private taste or articulations of emotion.

The reason I’m drawing attention to this conversation at all is because I wouldn’t want to see others neglect aesthetics as I did in my undergrad philosophy days. This branch of philosophy stands to make an appreciable contribution to one’s general philosophical sensibilities if students would attend to its concerns and discursive practices — particularly if one’s previous exposure to philosophy has exaggerated its proximity to the sciences.

If you’d care to follow up, Noë further elaborates his take on art in an article here.

And for those specially intrigued, Noë also airs his thoughts in book-length form here.

Alva Noe on Consciousness

There’s an interesting conversation taking place at the interface between philosophy of mind and cognitive neuroscience. One of this conversation’s recurring talking points is the hypothesis of the “extended mind.” Some of the key concerns raised speak to whether the human mind is to be identified with the brain, whether the mind’s powers are analogous to the powers of computers, and what difference it might make to the philosophical and scientific study of the mind if greater consideration is paid to the mind’s character as “embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended.” Alva Noë is one proponent of “extended mind” research, and you can get some sense of the flavor of his contribution to the conversation in the following video.

More from Alva Noë:

For some further orienting to related discussions in Philosophy of Mind and Embodied Cognitive Science, consider the following for serviceable introductions: