Cognition and the Arts: Some Necessary Generalizations
We can hardly consider the subjects of critical thinking, creativity, and cognition as they apply to the arts, without reviewing some of the significant cognitive and behavioral theories from which many of us have drawn insights, conceptual reinforcements, and some much needed inspiration. As there exist valid theories and reports from hundreds of contemporary cognitivists and behaviorists, what appears in this section must be accepted as information from only a relatively small portion of experts past and present. Concepts and theories from the areas of psychology, neurosciences, education, and information theory have added greatly to the study of memory, learning, and cognition.
Eleanor Gibson, one of the outstanding scholars in the area of perception, has scrutinized and reported on Piaget's concept of "conservation." Gibson views the concept as intellectual achievement, and as such it is perfectly suited for application in the arts. She speaks of conservation as it applies to a quality of an object, its permanence or invariance. Recognition of patterns of variance or invariance in art objects is essential in the understanding of musical forms, poetry, dance, paintings, sculpture, and even architecture. Conservation may also apply to the properties of an object, for example, mass, speed, or volume. Conservation takes place more dramatically in the temporal arts, music and dance, than in the plastic arts. It occurs in symphony movements, for example, when the composer presents a main theme and then inserts a development section in which the main theme is varied or transformed but still retains enough of its basic qualities to be identified yet as the main theme extended or developed. Compositions entitled "theme and