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The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution Paperback – February 2, 2010
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From The Washington Post
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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First, Dutton outlays his very pluralistic theory of what constitutes art. He makes very good arguments against the reigning culturally relativistic views (art is whatever we define it as). In its place, he offers twelve criteria that art must have in order to be art (none of which are necessary or sufficient on their own. They are:
(1) gives direct pleasure; (2) exhibits skill and virtuosity; (3) novelty and creativity; (4) style; (5) ability to evoke criticism; (6) representation; (7) special focus; (8) expressive individuality; (9) emotional saturation; (10) intellectually challenging; follows artistic traditions; (12) imaginitive experience.
Dutton writes that while none of these critiria are necessary or sufficient, anything that is to be classified as art must exhibit a greater or lesser degree of at least several of these traits. He certainly shows that even the most different cultural definitions of art all have at least these criteria in common, and more importantly, that, regardless of culture, we all have a human drive to admire things with these characteristics.
From here, Dutton's argument focuses on how to see art in evolutionary terms.Read more ›
To this end Dutton even goes after Immanuel Kant, arguably the greatest idealist philosopher since Plato. He directs his argument against Kant to what is one of the weakest points in Kant's philosophical system, his understanding of aesthetic values. Dutton points out among other things that Kant may have had a literal blind spot for art.
A number of Dutton's arguments supporting his premise are not particularly strong, but all are interesting. He provides a fascinating perspective on aesthetic analysis and the question of what indeed constitutes art. To this reader's great relief he does so using straight forward, clear prose. He avoids the often obscure jargon and syntactical mazes so often found in modern philosophical writing. This quality along makes the book worth buying.
If evolution explains art-making through all cultures, you'd expect some general agreement on, say, what paintings are beautiful. Statistics have been done, and it does seem that there is a consensus between cultures on what is the prettiest landscape. In the Pleistocene era, our ancestors were nomads. They would have liked the blue of water or of distant vegetation; it would have meant sustenance from good hunting grounds. Music is perhaps harder to explain.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer 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 15 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 18 months ago by Abhinav
I can not say enough about t his book. Great book for teaching the humanities.Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you are into evolutionary psychology, this book is fascinating.Published 23 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