On June 1, 2014 Prof. Dr. David Poeppel (so far Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, New York University) joined the Max Planck Society as a Scientific Member and Director of the Neuroscience Department of the Institute, for the time being on a part-time basis until the department is fully established. The setup of the department is in progress.
The objective of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics is to arrive at a deeper understanding of the mechanisms, elicitors and functions of aesthetic liking and aesthetic preferences: Who appreciates what and why and under what conditions? And what functions do aesthetic practices and preferences serve for individuals, social groups and societies?
The research focuses primarily on the foundations of aesthetic evaluation, perception and experience.
Like most other forms of empirical research that are not wholly exploratory in nature, empirical aesthetics is driven by theories, hypotheses and models. Specifically, it faces the challenge of integrating and developing theories, hypotheses and models from very different disciplines, most notably from psychology, the traditional poetics of the individual art forms, musicology, art history, literary studies, biology, sociology, and the neurosciences. The structure of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics is based on the assumption that progress towards an integrative aesthetic theory can only be achieved through a strong focus on basic research and joint interdisciplinary efforts.
The institute will have four departments. Two of them ("Music" and "Langugage and Literature") have started to work in fall 2013. The appointment of a director of the third department (Neuroscience) is in an advanced stage. As to a fourth director, the search is only beginning.