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Does Experiencing Beauty Require Thought? Kant's Theory Is Tested

Researchers at New York University tested Immanuel Kant's idea to find out if brain power is essential for enjoying beauty.
Posted at 12:08 PM, May 11, 2017

In 1764, philosopher Immanuel Kant speculated that beauty requires thought — and over 250 years later, new research backs his theory.

Neuroscientists at New York University wanted see if you really need conscious effort to experience beauty.

So they had study participants look at a series of images and say which ones they thought were "beautiful" or "plain."

Then, the subjects did it again — but this time while they rated the pictures, they had to finish a memorization task that was supposed to distract them.

The second time around, participants said they had less pleasure from seeing "beautiful" images and felt indifferent about the "plain" ones.

It goes to show — you probably need brain power to appreciate beauty.