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How We Understand Art: A Cognitive Developmental Account of Aesthetic Experience


reviewed by David S. Nateman - 1989

coverTitle: How We Understand Art: A Cognitive Developmental Account of Aesthetic Experience
Author(s): Michael J. Parsons
Publisher: John Wiley, New York
ISBN: 0521379660, Pages: , Year:
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Michael Parsons’s How We Understand Art represents an attempt to understand and explain aesthetic experience through cognitive developmental psychology; the result is a developmental account of aesthetic experience. The central question that Parsons responds to through his analysis is “How do people understand paintings?” My basic argument is that people respond to paintings differently because they understand them differently. They have different expectations about what paintings in general should be like, what kinds of qualities can be found in them, and how they can be judged; and these expectations deeply affect their response. (pp. 1-3) Parsons sees aesthetic development in terms of five stages. His model is based on research in the cognitive development of moral judgment by Kohlberg as well as the cognitive theories of Habermas and Piaget. He utilizes “the traditional view in aesthetics that art is basically the expression of—the coming to know about—self. . . that a response... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 90 Number 3, 1989, p. 493-496
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 510, Date Accessed: 9/21/2020 3:29:29 AM

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