Can pornography be art? No, argues Alva Noë, because porn is an instrument with a certain function in mind (sexual arousal) and works of art are not instruments.
Can pornography be art? No, argues Alva Noë, because porn is an instrument with a certain function in mind (sexual arousal) and works of art are not instruments. They are not tools. They have no function. Instead, they subvert functions. They disrupt them.
Pornography never defies expectations. If it does, it doesn’t perform its function. That's why, according to Noë, it can't be classified as art.
Philosopher Alva Noë's latest book is titled Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature.
There is nothing qualitatively different about the way the internet is changing our human experience now than the way the invention of writing did some thousands of years ago.
Alva Noë: Too many cognitive scientists tend to take a 17th century conception of the person as an individual island trapped inside his or her head and we need to break free of that.
Think of the way the modern company is organized where there is an in-house social networking medium that people use to exchange ideas and keep on task and allow people in different offices or in different places or in different time zones to work on common problems together fluently.
Alva Noë: I'm very optimistic that we can make breakthroughs precisely by trying to take steps in the direction of a more integrated, contextualized neuroscience of consciousness.
I think that this is a very exciting time to be studying human nature. Often people say it’s exciting because of the tremendous breakthroughs we’re making in understanding the brain and the new technologies we have for finally being able to look at the brain such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, but I disagree with that, that it’s the new breakthroughs in our study of the brain that are making this an interesting time.
Alva Noë is a writer and a philosopher who lives in New York City and Berkeley. His work focuses on the nature of mind and human experience. He is the author of Action in Perception (The MIT Press, 2004), Out of Our Heads (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009), Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012), and Strange Tools (2015). Noë, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1995, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California in Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He has been Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence with The Forsythe Company and has recently begun a performative-lecture collaboration with Deborah Hay. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and a weekly contributor to National Public Radio's science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture.