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The insightful analysis of Menninghaus et al. could be deepened and rendered more systematic by recognizing that our emotional enjoyment of tragedy – and our response to fiction more generally – are versions of what happens with simulation. They derive from the operation and evolutionary function of simulation. Once we understand emotion in simulation, we largely understand emotion in tragedy (and fiction).
Recent decades have witnessed an explosion in neuroscientific and related research treating aesthetic response. This book integrates this research with insights from philosophical aesthetics to propose new answers to longstanding questions about beauty and sublimity. Hogan begins by distinguishing what we respond to as beautiful from what we count socially as beautiful. He goes on to examine the former in terms of information processing (specifically, prototype approximation and non-habitual pattern recognition) and emotional involvement (especially of the endogenous reward and attachment systems). In the course of the book, Hogan examines such issues as how universal principles of aesthetic response may be reconciled with individual idiosyncrasy, how it is possible to argue rationally over aesthetic response, and what role personal beauty and sublimity might play in the definition of art. To treat these issues, the book considers works by Woolf, Wharton, Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Beethoven, Matisse, and Kiran Rao, among others.
Hibbing et al.'s article isolates a plausible psychological factor contributing to differences in political orientation. However, there are two potential difficulties. Both the nature of negativity and the liberal–conservative opposition are ambiguous. A possible way of treating these problems enhances the theoretical framework through fuller reference to emotion systems and categories of triggers for those systems.
The target article presents a thought-provoking approach to the relation of neuroscience and art. However, at least two issues pose potential difficulties. The first concerns whether “art appreciation” is a coherent topic for scientific study. The second concerns the degree to which processing fluency can explain aesthetic feeling or may simply be one component of a more complex account.