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The Cognitive Structure of Art Appreciation: a Study on Northwest Coast Art (2020-2021)

Field of study: Philosophy

This paper addresses the aesthetic appreciation of indigenous creative practices, with a focus on the mental processes at play in such acts of appreciation. My hypothesis is that to develop an understanding of human cognition through art, it might be useful to look at art more expansively, by considering creative practices that are not usually within the purview of Western philosophical systems. More
specifically, I will draw on examples from indigenous societies of the Pacific Northwest that encompass everything from utilitarian objects to ritual artefacts used in ceremonial circumstances and dance performances etc. to argue that aesthetic appreciation is shaped by a shared cognitive repertoire1 of processes and capacities.

Keywords: art appreciation, indigenous aesthetics, aesthetic cognition, Northwest Coast art

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