Aesthetic chills occur in artistic, scientific and religious context. We introduce a theoretical framework relating them to humans’ vital need for cognition. We discuss the implications of such a framework and the plausibility of our hypothesis. Numerous references to chills are introduced (quotes from, inter alios, artists, physicists and mathematicians).
Learning and improving our knowledge about the world is analogous to the activity of “sailors who have to rebuild their ship on the open sea”. The task may appear vain to many, and in fact the greatest minds have given up on the sail of truth before, albeit a raft must see the light of day. Healthy subjects think, not because they can but because they must. It is impossible for them not to do so. The mind functions in such a way that it restlessly proceeds to remove uncertainty, supplement and complete half-observed facts. Humans are naturally driven to organize unexplained external stimuli into some coherent cognitive matrix. We presented a theoretical framework in which the elements of such a matrix are organized hierarchically and differentiated between polar opposites. The only way in which this activity can come to its term is for the instinct of knowledge to be satisfied and for the cognitive system to prove both perennial and functional. Recent results suggest that aesthetic emotions might correspond to such a psychobiological event.