The neuro-philosophy of archetype in visual aesthetics: from Plato to Zeki and beyond

By: Dyutiman Mukhopadhyay

Abstract: The definition of ‘Archetype’ typically refers to an original which has been imitated. The origin of the concept of Archetype in the traditional sense of the term refers to the primitive, universal perceptual imprint – a theory that dates back to Plato. The idea of the archetypal image is conceptually integrated with the aesthetics of visual arts and discussed under the guise of widely researched equivalent terms. The philosophical and scientific propositions on the concept of Archetype with reference to visual arts tended to have a neurological constitution even from ancient times. Starting from the 1990s, a radical outlook emerged in the field of cognitive aesthetics in the form of ‘neuroaesthetics’ which shows a significant potential in dealing with the problem of construction of the symbolic system in visual arts. Does the represented image of an aesthetically appealing artwork have structured within it the roots of an archetype? Is it innately constructed? And finally, is there at all any difference between pattern recognition among humans and other animals and the philosophical descriptions of Ideal, Form and Archetype? The review tries to interpret the development.