Dutton, an aesthetic philosopher best known as the curator of the Web site Arts & Letters Daily, sets out to do for art what Steven Pinker and others have done for psychology, language, and religion: consider it from a Darwinian standpoint. Along the way, he gives an engaging, if opinionated, survey of various currents in aesthetic debate; it is perhaps unavoidable that he seems on more solid foundations here than in the realm of science. When trying to assess whether artistic impulses should be considered adaptive or merely by-products of the evolutionary process, a crucial question raised by his approach, he argues by analogy and tries to have it both ways. But the book is ultimately animated less by its grand thesis than by all the questions tossed up along the way�why did no art form develop to exploit smell, as music does hearing?�and by Dutton�s infectious and wide-ranging love of art, a passion that clearly goes beyond anything that could be considered an adaptive trait.
We talk about the maternal instinct and the mating instinct, why not, asks Dutton, the art instinct? We are a species “obsessed with creating artistic experiences,” so surely there’s a coded-in-our-genes reason for that. Darwinian concepts have been applied with illuminating effect to psychology, history, and politics, why not art? And who better to attempt this mind-expanding analysis than Dutton, a professor of aesthetics and the philosophy of art, and founder and editor of Arts & Letters Daily, named the “best Web site in the world” by the Guardian. Creative, nimble, and entertaining, Dutton discusses landscape art, pottery, Aristotle, forgeries, and ready-mades. Rigorous in his definition of the “signal characteristics” of art and application of evolutionary science, Dutton identifies cross-cultural commonalities in art, explicates our innate feel for images and stories (devoting an entire chapter to the “uses of fiction”), and explores art’s role in individual expression and community cohesiveness. Marshaling intriguing examples and analogies in a cogent, animated argument destined to provoke debate, Dutton formulates the best answer yet to the question, “What’s art good for?” --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
I comment not as one knowledgeable in the evolutionary sciences or the philosophy or art, but as an artist curious of the opinions of those who attempt to explain what art is and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Stan
I came to this book after reading pinkers on how the mind works and mating mind from geoffery Miller the author borrows ideas heavily from both of them but what I found interesting... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Abhinav
I can not say enough about t his book. Great book for teaching the humanities.Published 7 months ago by Parrotone
If you are into evolutionary psychology, this book is fascinating.Published 11 months ago by L Brennan
I would recommend this product for everyone, interested in art phylosophy! This book is about beauty, pleasure and human evolution.Published on August 4, 2013 by Valentin Kashtelyan
Since the limited reviews I have made over the years the author fit into my preconceived notions nicely. Read morePublished on May 31, 2013 by Mary C. Smith