National Collegiate Honors Council


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UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity:


Copyright @ by the author.


Artistic disciplines burgeoned in Scotland during the eighteenth century. As fields such as sculpture, painting, literature, and music thrived, so did philosophy. Responding to the advancements of the fine arts, philosophers such as Hume, Reid, and Hutcheson began to write about the philosophy of art—aesthetics. Though they addressed a variety of themes in their writings, aesthetic theory can generally be characterized by three main questions: does beauty originate internally (person) or externally (object), are there universal traits that create beauty, and lastly, what is the role of the critique (expert) in recognizing and interpreting beauty? Three hundred years later, academic fields have progressed to apply empirical methods (keeping with the hopes of Scottish empiricists) to the questions of enlightenment philosophers. The rising field of neuroaesthetics applies the methodologies of neuroscience and psychology to the philosophical questions raised by Scottish thinkers and their contemporaries.