Monday, November 16, 2009

art evolves

What's the evolutionary significance of art?

There's lots to say about this. Darwin's Camera, for instance, explores photographic art and the evolutionary/visual imagination. If art is fundamentally an expression of emotion and experience, and of the occasionally-elevated feelings experience sometimes affords, the connections between our biological heritage and our creative productions are inescapable.

Dennis Dutton says something similar, in The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution:

Art has been elemental to the ascent of humankind — linking cave drawings, natural selection, and Picasso. Mating habits, sexual selection and Pavarotti. Art, he argues, is not just sublime. It’s instinct, from cave to concert hall. -On Point

Roger Scruton says there's a lot more to it than instinct, in Beauty. (AEI review)

Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane," writes Roger Scruton. "It can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend.

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