We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
...recent work by several researchers at University College London?—?including the establishment of the first major grant-driven research program for the neurobiological investigation of aesthetics, or neuroaesthetics?—?has made the first steps toward a unified biocultural theory of art.
An object's beauty may not be universal, but the neural basis for appreciating beauty probably is. The researchers' initial discoveries and the increasing formalization of the field promise to open the way for the first time to an understanding of beauty based on something other than speculation.
Can things of the soul and spirit be understood in terms of neurotransmitters and neural wiring? Count me a skeptic. Different levels of organization have different rules and patterns which do not transfer one to the other. For example, you could know everything about atoms but never predict a living cell, and you could understand everything about a cortical network without predicting Moby Dick. (And, for me, on a good day I see beauty everywhere but on a bad day I see it nowhere.)
Still, they may as well give it a try. I get skeptical when they call it a bio-cultural model, however. It makes it too clear that they seek to detour around the psychology part.
Just thought of something else: You know how when you love someone they become so beautiful as to make your breath deepen? That's psychological.
Think of newborns. They're pretty ugly, but mothers think they are so beautiful it makes their souls soar with love. Oxytocin helps, but even after that wears off, that child is still the most beautiful creature on earth to Mom.