Is there a thing such as aesthetic emotions? A debate on the originality of aesthetic experience

Editor’s note
in NODES 15-16 →
We have all experienced – at least once in a lifetime – different emotions at the sight of an artwork, while watching a film or a theatrical act, or else when listening to a music piece..
For many scholars, these are human responses to beauty defined as aesthetic emotions that a person can experience at the sight of an artwork, but also when looking at a landscape, an object or another person; in other words, distinct emotional activations constituting a class of emotions with peculiar characteristics.
However, is there such a thing as aesthetic emotions? If so, what are they?
Philosophy, psychology and, recently, neuroscience have tried to answer this question sparking a lively debate. This issue of Nodes illustrates a cross-section of this discussion. We published the Italian translation of a recent verbal fencing that arose from the paper “What are aesthetic emotions?” by Menninghaus et al. (2019).
The authors argue that aesthetic emotions constitute a special class of emotions with distinct characteristics, as opposed to other researchers, namely Martin Skov and Marcos Nadal, who affirm that there are no aesthetic emotions forming a special class exclusively linked to the aesthetic experience.
Both positions are supported by plausible arguments, models and evidence. Under these circumstances, it is not our intention to draw a conclusion; rather, we intend to investigate this phenomenon and expose it to a greater public by bringing it out of the academic environment. We reckon it is crucial to share this topic among various disciplines so as to provide insights into other branches of researchers and readers.
Therefore, in the Italian section of this issue, readers will find the translation of the paper “There are no aesthetic emotions: comment on Menninghaus et al. (2019)” by Skov and Nadal, followed by the subsequent reply “Aesthetic emotions are a key factor in aesthetic evaluation: reply to Skov e Nadal (2020)” by Menninghaus et al.
Albeit these articles might not be straightforward at first reading, they make a significant contribution to the current studies in the field of art and many more.