Strange Tools

Art and Human Nature by Alva Noë

  • Published: Aug 17, 2020

A philosopher makes the case for thinking of works of art as tools for investigating ourselves What is art? Why does it matter to us? What does it tell us about ourselves?Normally, we look to works of art in order to answer these fundamental questions. But... read more

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Details of Strange Tools

Exact title of the book
Strange Tools
Book author
Alva Noë
ISBN
9780809089178
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published
Sep 22, 2015
Language
English
Format
PDF, FB2, EPUB, MOBI
File size (in PDF)
2736 kB

Some brief overview of book

A philosopher makes the case for thinking of works of art as tools for investigating ourselves What is art? Why does it matter to us? What does it tell us about ourselves?

Normally, we look to works of art in order to answer these fundamental questions. But what if the objects themselves are not what matter? In Strange Tools Art and Human Nature, the philosopher and cognitive scientist Alva No argues that our obsession with works of art has gotten in the way of understanding how art works on us.

For No, art isnt a phenomenon in need of an explanation but a mode of research, a method of investigating what makes us humana strange tool. Art isnt just something to look at or listen toit is a challenge, a dare to try to make sense of what it is all about. Art aims not for satisfaction but for confrontation, intervention, and subversion.

Through diverse and provocative examples from the history of art-making, No reveals the transformative power of artistic production. By staging a dance, choreographers cast light on the way bodily movement organizes us. Painting goes beyond depiction and representation to call into question the role of pictures in our lives.

Accordingly, we cannot reduce art to some natural aesthetic sense or trigger; recent efforts to frame questions of art in terms of neurobiology and evolutionary theory alone are doomed to fail. By engaging with art, we are able to study ourselves in profoundly novel ways. In fact, art and philosophy have much more in common than you might think.

Reframing the conversation around artists and their craft, Strange Tools is a daring and stimulating intervention in contemporary thought.

About author

No is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. A graduate of Columbia College, he holds a BPhil from the University of Oxford and a PhD from Harvard University. The focus of his work in recent years has been on the nature of mind and human experience, with particular emphasis on perception and consciousness.

In addition, he is a weekly contributor to National Public Radio's science blog 13. 7 Cosmos and Culture.

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