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Title: On the emotional experience of art
Author: Freeman, D. T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis seeks to explain the nature and significance of the emotional experience we might have when we engage with works of art. Chapter I considers the nature of emotion and what is required of a theory of emotion in order to say something significant about our emotional experience of art. In particular, it considers the sense in which we are both active and passive in relation to our emotional life. Chapter II introduces the idea that it is possible to perceive emotion in the world. It then distinguishes two kinds of perceptual properties and considers the different circumstances in which each can be perceived. Chapter III provides a detailed analysis of three kinds of experience. First, the perceiver might be infected by the very emotion that he perceives, and experience the perceived emotion by feeling it. Secondly, the perceiver’s experience might also involve feeling some other emotion in response to the emotion he perceives, in an experience of communication. Thirdly, rather than having any emotion aroused when he perceives an emotion, the perception might be the occasion for the perceiver comprehending his own – otherwise incomprehensible – emotion in articulation. Chapter IV turns attention to the kind of emotional experience that works of art offer. In art alone we are able to perceive both kinds of emotional properties. So art can offer a particularly dense experience; one that combines infection, communication, and articulation of emotion. In such an experience, the perceived emotion engages with the plenitude of the perceiver’s emotional activity and passivity as identified in Chapter I. Chapter V discusses the value of the plenary experience of emotion that art offers. It argues that we have a need for the emotional engagement offered by the plenary experience, and that art is valuable to us on account of meeting that need.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available