The challenge, Armstrong argues, is to account for the ability of readers to find incommensurable meanings in the same text, for example, or to take pleasure in art that is harmonious or dissonant, symmetrical or distorted, unified or discontinuous and disruptive.
How Literature Plays with the Brain is the first book to use the resources of neuroscience and phenomenology to analyze aesthetic experience. For the neuroscientific community, the study suggests that different areas of research—the neurobiology of vision and reading, the brain-body interactions underlying emotions—may be connected to a variety of aesthetic and literary phenomena. For critics and students of literature, the study engages fundamental questions within the humanities: What is aesthetic experience? What happens when we read a literary work? How does the interpretation of literature relate to other ways of knowing? -- G. Gabrielle Starr, New York University
The book is divided into three parts:
Part I: places neuroscience as a social and political practice into historical context
Part II: weaves together the insights from contemporary neuroscience with the wisdom of major figures in the history of political thought
Part III: considers how neuroscience can inform contemporary debates about a range of issues in political theory
This work brings together scholars who are sceptical about the possibility of integrating neuroscience and political theory with proponents of a neuroscience-informed approach to thinking about political and social life. The result is a timely and wide-ranging collection of essays about the role that our brain might play in the life of the body politic. It should be essential reading for all those with an interest in the cutting edge of political theory.