“The Art Instinct” by Denis Dutton
A new book by Denis Dutton (the founder and editor of the Web site Arts & Letters Daily) : The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution
Bloomsbury Press, January 2009, $25.00, 288 pp
We will soon review it in our blog. In the meantime, here is the blurb:
"The Art Instinct combines two fascinating and contentious disciplines-art and evolutionary science-in a provocative new work that will change forever the way we think about the arts, from painting to literature to movies to pottery. Human tastes in the arts, Dutton argues, are evolutionary traits, shaped by Darwinian selection. They are not, as the past century of art criticism and academic theory would have it, just "socially constructed.
"Our love of beauty is inborn, and many aesthetic tastes are shared across remote cultures-just one example is the widespread preference for landscapes with water and distant trees, like the savannas where we evolved. Using forceful logic and hard evidence, Dutton shows that we must premise art criticism on an understanding of evolution, not on abstract "theory." He restores the place of beauty, pleasure, and skill as artistic values.
"Sure to provoke discussion in scientific circles and uproar in the art world, The Art Instinct offers radical new insights into both the nature of art and the workings of the human mind."