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How has art evolved? 
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Post How has art evolved?
Any theories?

Edited by: Timothy Schoonover at: 5/9/03 2:23:53 am



Fri May 09, 2003 2:23 am
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Post Re: How has art evolved?
On Dawkins' recommendation, I'm reading The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, by Geoffrey F. Miller. According to Miller, the ability to create art evolved as a fitness indicator, selected by female mate choice. Think about the attributes of fitness indicators (the peacock's tail, the elk's giant antlers). Ideally, they are difficult to achieve and thus hard to fake. They are deliberately wasteful; sexual choice flies directly in the face of garden-variety natural selection. If there is an attribute that females are selecting for, it becomes the most important attribute for the male to have, no matter what its drawbacks; because no amount of survival ability impacts evolution if it isn't passed on. Art consumes the artists time; demands hand-eye coordination that can't be faked; demands the ability to protect his creations from competitors.

For artistic ability to work as a fitness indicator, females must have the ability to judge its quality. So Miller explains our species' ability to create and to appreciate art as sexually selected fitness indicators.




Sun May 11, 2003 12:27 am
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Post Re: How has art evolved?
Ridley's The Red Queen: Sex & the Evolution of Human Nature works along this line as well. Interesting reading, but I found I had some large problems with the book.


Lynne




Sun May 11, 2003 9:02 am
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Post Re: How has art evolved?
Jeremy

You have to be one of the most prolific readers we have here at BookTalk. Every other post you make mentions another good book you're devouring!

Once again this community has me thinking about a subject I would never have even contemplated on my own - a theory about the origins and evolution of art creation and appreciation. This book by Miller sounds fascinating, and I would be curious to hear more about it as you read deeper Jeremy.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:51 pm



Mon May 12, 2003 3:36 am
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Post Re: How has art evolved?
It is not always necessary to postulate an adaptationist explanation for every phenomenon of human nature, even though it may be very useful for some. It is entirely possible that art is an entirely cultural innovation which requires no evolutionary explanation. At the very least, art of the written form (poetry and form) almost definitely has no evolutionary basis, since no significant evolutionary change could have occured since the inception of writing. Visual arts are a more blurry area, as they date back significantly farther. However, one might postulate that cave paintings and the like served a role in pre-linguistic communication. I'm not particularly familiar with human cultural evolution (I'm taking a class on human evolution next month and intend on reading Jared Diamond's book as soon as I finish the latest Dennett), so my guesses on the matter might be innaccurate.

However, one art form which definitely requires an evolutionary explanation is music, since humans display an innate propensity for it almost the equal of our propensity for learning language. A variety of studies have shown that infants are as accurate in recognizing pitch and melody as adults (except for those with formal musical training.) As to the question of how (or why) music evolved, the sexual selection issue probably played a significant role. Other ideas which have been proposed include the use of music as a sort of cultural identifier (allowing for sorts of early tribal "patriotism".) I remember there was an interesting feature on PBS dealing with this topic recently, if you can get a chance to locate it, it was well worth the hour spent watching it.

Anyway, just my two cents.




Wed May 14, 2003 8:41 pm


Post Re: How has art evolved?
I don't know much about this subject, but Dawkins seems to imply that language, spacial reasoning, and other recursive cognition, which it seems to me would include music, derives from the ability to construct and manipulate mental symbols. He loosely suggests various impetus for adaption--throwing, tracking, and organized hunting come to mind. If you look at it this way, language, art and all the other host of semaphoric activities we engage in, knowingly or not, are by products of this initial adaption and in fact have induced further adaption along the same lines, so significant was their influence upon the way in which survival and reproduction occured. It is interesting that the fundamental elements of poetry--metaphor and metanym--exist as necessary antecedents to a successful scientific framework of knowledge itself.

Edited by: Timothy Schoonover at: 5/19/03 1:43:37 pm



Mon May 19, 2003 12:10 pm
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