As discussed last month, I have deliberately decided to expand my reading list this year to include a slightly broader range of topics. I chose to listen to The Aesthetic Brain by Anjan Chatterjee because it combines the topics of general scientific interest and philosophy and Chatterjee’s research has also been referenced by various other books I have encountered recently.
This book presents the current neuroscientific understanding of how the structure of our brains relates to our experiences of the world around us. It discusses the aesthetic underpinnings of human beauty both in relation to faces and to bodies and how genetics has been the main driving force behind those innate preferences.
Chatterjee very nicely explains the idea of primary rewards such as food and sex and secondary rewards which include things like money and beautiful objects. He also expands these concepts to include the aesthetics of our environments and ultimately whether all of these neuroscientific principles can be combined to allow us to answer some pretty complex philosophical questions like “what is art?” and “what is the purpose of art?”
In hindsight The Aesthetic Brain is in many ways quite similar to a book I read a few months ago, The Organised Mind by Daniel Levitin. This isn’t surprising as both of the authors are medical professionals who undertake research into the workings of the brain. I found both books very interesting from a scientific aspect but while The Organised Mind didn’t seem to have a clear cohesive theme, Chatterjee nicely ties all of the content presented in The Aesthetic Brain to the main topic of how we experience the world around us.
I think many dentists, who generally have an inquisitive scientific mindset would also find this book a thought provoking read like I did. https://amzn.to/2r0PagX
Dr Chris Harper