The Split between Inner and Outer
Worlds and the Impoverishment of
is as far
as the eye
as my eye
is to me
(Gregory Corso 1989, p.182)
At the end of the last chapter I spoke of the limitations of a scientific psychology of aesthetics. One problem with this scientific perspective is that its empirical approach privileges those features of aesthetic response that can be most readily quantified, and other more qualitative aspects are distorted by being treated ‘objectively’ or else effectively disqualified. Another, more fundamental, difficulty is that it assumes that pictorial features—proportions, lines, colours and so on—are simply ‘out there’ in the work of art, waiting to induce their effects, which can then be measured. Individual psychological responses can then conveniently be treated as variables in relation to these objective formal properties. While these approaches can produce interesting findings about the psycho-physiological aspects of response to a work of art, the common ground of aesthetic experience that they establish feels thin, dry and far removed from what most of us would recognise. It deals only with the outward half of such experiences, leaving their ‘inner’ aspects stranded in an inaccessible realm of subjectivity.