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The Outward MindMaterialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literature$
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Benjamin Morgan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226442112

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226457468.001.0001

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Epilogue: Wildean Neuroaesthetics

Epilogue: Wildean Neuroaesthetics

(p.255) Epilogue: Wildean Neuroaesthetics
The Outward Mind

Benjamin Morgan

University of Chicago Press

The book’s epilogue discusses Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as a novel that forecasts a revitalized contemporary interest in the aesthetic implications of what has recently been called the “neural self.” Using notebooks Wilde kept as an Oxford student, the chapter traces Wilde’s interest in materialism to the scientific and philosophical accounts of matter promoted by Thomas Huxley, Henry Maudsley, and others. The epilogue briefly survey’s the book’s argument that aesthetic discourse provided nineteenth-century writers with a platform for exploring materialist accounts of human experience developed in physiological and evolutionary science. It then situates the book’s argument in relation to recent scientific approaches to humanistic inquiry, including neuroaesthetics, cognitive literary studies, and deconstructive approaches to neuroscience developed by Catherine Malabou. The chapter concludes by suggesting that returning to nineteenth-century configurations of the relationship between science and aesthetics are helpful for formulating less oppositional accounts of the humanities and sciences today.

Keywords:   Oscar Wilde, Henry Maudsley, materialism, neuroaesthetics, cognitive literary studies, neuroscience, sciences and humanities, neurophysiology, evolution

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