Digital Commons@RISD Home > Division of Liberal Arts > Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive) > Vol. 5 (2007)
Implied World Views in Pictures: Reflections from a Cognitive Psychological and Anthropological Point of View
In traditional art history, iconological attempts to analyze visual works of art by treating their formal and semantic features as symptoms of more general, implied world views or cultures have occurred rather frequently. Still, such attempts have been criticized for permitting subjective and non-verifiable interpretations. In this paper, however, I will argue that (i) pictorial works of art indeed imply wider world views or schemata, and (ii) that our comprehension of these schemata can be explained by taking into account recent research within cognitive psychology. More specifically, I will argue that intelligence partly consists of the storage and retrieval of action scripts or schemata which may occur on various levels of abstraction. I will claim that the possession of high-level narrative structures, shared by a relatively large group of beholders, is actually a necessary presupposition for understanding pictorial works of art as part of a wider context, that is, as implying world views.