Within my thesis I examine how the phenomenon of 'prehistoric art' can be defined. The difficulty is situated within the fact that the concept of 'art' cannot be understood apart from the autonomy of art and the aesthetic within Western modernity. This means that the condition of art is contradictory to the active role of prehistoric art in the constitution of the social. I argue that this apparent opposition is incorrect as it is precisely the autonomous dimension of art and the aesthetic that allows understanding art's capacity for social agency. I examine how the autonomy of art and the aesthetic can be reworked for animism through an analysis of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, Alfred North Whitehead, Immanuel Kant and Theodor Adorno. This theoretical examination provides the basis for the theorization of three different types of aesthetic experience for three different prehistoric periods: the Early Palaeolithic, the Upper Palaeolithic and Neolithic. By theorizing three different modifications of aesthetic experience across prehistory, I argue that one develops insight into the way prehistoric art takes up different forms through time.
'The Animacy of Stone: A Whiteheadian Perspective' Process Studies, accepted