Skip to comments.The Art Instinct
Posted on 01/27/2009 8:47:05 AM PST by bs9021
The Art Instinct by: Daniel Allen, January 27, 2009
It is hard to imagine what purpose art could have served in a world where every day was largely a struggle to survive until the next day. How did art develop among our ancestors, and what role did it play in their ability to survive and progress? In The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution, Denis Dutton seeks to answer these questions as he explores the characteristics of art in the framework of Darwinian philosophy and human evolution.
Many readers will doubtless reject The Art Instinct out of hand, disagreeing with the premise of evolution as a valid basis for any discussion. Many will argue that Dutton is simply an interesting man, making interesting arguments based on a false premise. But belief and even science aside, it is hard to argue that Duttons view is not indeed fascinating.
Dutton, who is also the founder and editor of the highly regarded academic website Arts and Letters Daily, frames his argument within the traditional understanding of Darwinism. Darwinian adaptations are inherited biological or behavioral characteristics that reliably develop in an organism, he says. Your fingernails, the hair on your headthey reliably develop in you, in Homo sapiens, because somewhere in the past it increased your chance of survival and reproduction.
He takes the argument one step further and one step to the side, however. Dutton explains, I think its time to take Charles Darwins views on evolution, on natural selection and sexual selection, and apply them to artistic taste.
Dutton explains that for many years the answer to the question, Are artistic values universal, was, No. He aims to disprove this understanding....
(Excerpt) Read more at campusreportonline.net ...
| Hey, if Trog can sketch
the sexy cave girl, she thinks
he's so sensitive . . .
Why not? It's obfuscated the truth about everything else.
Go ahead and postulate a utilitarian purpose for art. But don't be surprised if your premise leads to the same conclusion that Michelangelo came to -- though doubtless you'll never admit it. I mean, after all, religion is just a "convenient myth" -- a utilitarian rationalization, right?
We have observed chimps and hunter gatherer groups of Homo sapiens and the above is simply not true any more than it is of modern man. Some struggle and some have an easy life. In fact, chimps have a rich social life and early Homo sapiens likely demonstrated artistic appreciation in the design of their tools. Culturally, man's production of art developed slowly over thousands of years starting in the culture of Homo sapiens' ancestors IMO.
Now was it genetic, I don't know, the field is junked up with pop psychology / genetics and I'm no expert obviously. However, an interested reader has to be leery of some of the far reaching. We have a very fragmentary record left behind and no ability to converse with the dead.
There is something to this. There is cave art which is 20,000 years old and small sculptures as well. The cave art may have had some type of spiritual meaning to the cave dwellers. They certainly were all on the edge of survival 20,000 years ago.
It’s an interesting exercise, but I don’t think a purely scientific approach to Man’s search for Goodness, Truth and Beauty has sufficient depth to really benefit.
Why was it necessary to state that this is least important? Because tradition is a conservative value? There's nothing in the story to explain the presence of that special disclaimer. The writer is an intern at the American Journalism Center. His leftist activism development is coming along.
A large portion of the brain is devoted to human face recognition. That's because some humans are friends, and some envy you and want to kill you. The need for fast and accurate face recognition to avoid death by fellow human was an important driver that led to art skills. Some of the first art was probably humor making fun of other people.
It's not sufficient that some babies are born smarter than others. For human evolution to progress, someone else must be killed off. Leftists have this odd narcissistic view of our ancestors. A lot of people were murdered or killed in war for us to get where we are today.
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