Tuesday 29 October 2013, 6:45pm start
Ray Tallis, Philip Davis, Rhiannon Corcoran and George Szirtes will introduce a discussion on appreciating art, brain mapping, neuroscience, and our wellbeing
In recent years, the arts have increasingly turned towards neuroscience to understand its purpose and value. From Jonah Lehrer’s controversial Proust Was A Neuroscientist to Harry Witchel’s You Are What You Hear, there is a huge interest in the burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics.
Yet some remain extremely sceptical both to the extent of what scientific findings actually reveal and, more broadly, science’s ability to explain art’s importance.
Can brain scans ever really explain to us the beauty of a concerto or a sonnet? Does Mozart’s and Shakespeare’s power ultimately reside in their ability to touch the right neural buttons? Or are critics guilty of mystification and philistinism in refusing to countenance a biological underpinning to ‘the art instinct’?
Can scientific research help us better separate good art from the bad? Is this another case of neuromania exaggerating its claims, or are there other reasons for why art has turned to science to validate itself?
Some background readings
Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain, new research reveals, by Julie Henry, The Telegraph 13 Jan 2013
New music 'rewarding for the brain', by Rebecca Morelle, BBC News 12 April 2013
Beyond the Brain, by David Brooks, New York Times 17 June 2013
Ultra-high resolution 3D map of a human brain, by Mo Costandi, The Guardian 20 June 2013
There's a lot more to neuroscience than media 'neuromania', by Mark Stokes, The Guardian 25 June 2013
Never mind the neuro-bollocks, by Stuart Derbyshire, spiked 5 Aug 2013
Venue and Time
In the discussion area of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, Cambridge Street, Manchester, M1 5BY. Please arrive around 6:30pm to get yourself a drink, ready for a prompt 6:45pm start - expected to finish before 8:30pm. Tickets are £5/£3, and should be purchased in advance, through the Eventbrite ticketing button above or by clicking on http://art-on-the-brain.eventbrite.co.uk.
This discussion, including audience comments, will be recorded and hopefully filmed, to be made available online shortly after the discussion as a reference resource.
The Manchester Salon is joining the fabulous Manchester Science Festival for the fifth year running, itself celebrating its seventh year. With over 200 events for families and adults, you can expect an exciting nine days of cutting-edge research, the brightest minds and amazing events. You’ll have the chance to delve into immersive experiences, explore the science of the city by foot, join in the debate, enjoy hands-on activities, see awe-inspiring films and much more. Watch out for trailblazers throughout the year and join us at events throughout Greater Manchester during 24 October - 3 November 2013.
This discussion is a satellite event of the prestigious Battle of Ideas 2013 weekend festival of ideas being held on 19 and 20 October 2013, hosted by the Barbican, London. Now in its ninth year, the Battle of Ideas festival comprises 75 debates and satellite discussions confronting society’s big issues and unresolved questions. It affords the opportunity for some clear thinking, rational debate and agenda-setting - above all, it's future-orientated, whilst retaining a healthy regard for the past achievements of humanity.
If you want to sponsor this Salon discussion, please see the Sponsoring the Manchester Salon page.
When & Where
Manchester Salon is a discussion forum inspired by the Institute of Ideas, aiming to better understand contemporary trends in society.
The aim is to try and capture the essence and nuances of the topics raised in current affairs, and discuss possible solutions. With as many views as there are participants, our conversations never end and are carried on more informally in the bar after the debate. Discussions are open to all.