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The Art Instinct, By Denis Dutton. An evolving portrait of the artist as a show-off. Tom Wilkinson; Friday 1 May 0 comments. In a groundbreaking new book that does for art what Stephen Pinker’s The Language Instinct did for linguistics, Denis Dutton overturns a century of art theory. Denis Dutton seems to have great ambitions in “The Art Instinct” as well as a willingness to court controversy. He wants to explain how art.

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In a longer, better book every lazy conjecture, too numerous to catalogue for reasons given, could have been met with its counter.

The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution

The Arts have been with us a long time, starting, perhaps, with language and story telling, dance, musical sounds, cave paintings, etc. Request removal from index. That is, an ordered set of causes with a good casual account of why you think they should be presented in that way. Alessandro Pignocchi 4 May The need to create art is found in every human society, manifest in many different ways across many different cultures.

Anthropologists know of many religions that render point 1 false. Added to PP index Total downloads 28of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 8 65, of 2, How can I increase my downloads?

This may be seen for example in the way he tells us how to “properly experience” a work of art: Some features of the attractors may indeed be related to adaptations; we do not want stories to be a billion pages long.

‘The Art Instinct’ by Denis Dutton

Should prove an interesting argument. And typically the assumption is that a trait has some sort of function in helping an individual survive and eventually reproduce in its particluar environment—fur keeps it warm, teeth may serves as weapons, claws instint it dig and create shelter.

Whenever we find two theoretical hypotheses tue deal with a certain problem, the only way to decide which is best is to find out which one predicts more things. Perhaps I’m missing the point.


Many issues are discussed such as the definition of art, the artist’s intention interpreting and evaluating artwork, the problem of forgery, Dada’s paradoxical nature, aesthetic value and greatness.

It would be silly to say no–whether or not there was “intent” behind evolution, our ears among other things enable us to enjoy music, our eyes, the visual arts. Fact and Fiction ed. It takes him forever to get to the point—he loves lists in which each point is several paragraphs long. Instead, he has created a vast rhetorical tissue of sophistical equivocations.

You like Britney Spears, and Dutton loves Beethoven. This, quite frankly, is oft-repeated bs. Denis Dutton 28 April The thesis of Dutton’s The Art Instinct is that aesthetics insinct be understood in very rational terms as a product of human evolution.

Feb 01, Liviania rated it liked it. In The Art InstinctDenis Dutton challenges the commonplace assertion that our notions of what constitutes art and what we find aesthetically pleasing are entirely constructs of our culture.

The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, & Human Evolution – Denis Dutton – Google Books

Oxford University Press- Aesthetics – pages. To write an entire volume with this title and NOT include a single reference to Alois Riegl is simply unconscionable and irresponsible. Dutton sets out to prove a rather large thesis, but at the end I feel like I’m still not sure what he’s saying the connection between art and evolution is.

Many of the individual chapters are very insightful all on their own. Indeed, it is a weakness of the book that the author does not serve up a very strong case.

As an evolutionary theorist, Thw provides an illuminating contrast with Darwin in two ways. So, for instance, we are told that language is filled with excess: But I didn’t enjoy it. Or to put it another way, how much cultural fluff needs to be stripped away for us to be sustainable? You sound like a hot-head. Skill and virtuosity 3. Many pages he devotes to explanations of evolution—helpful, yes, but sometimes tangential.


Mar 14, Josh Eckert rated it it was amazing. Evolutionary psychology and sociobiology are such attractive scientific views e. You can unsubscribe from newsletters at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in any newsletter. In making spandrels into a biological metaphor, Gould blends two legitimate Darwinian concepts, but he spuriously represents this blended concept as an alternative or supplement to the idea of adaptation through natural selection.

The chief idea that is actually integral with natural selection is that of inherited constraints on adaptive structure. I admire the audacity and provocation at the core of an argument like his — marrying the seemingly cloudy and subjective what is beautiful, interesting, worthy of analysis with the seemingly very ground-level and self-contained disciplines of biology and anthropology the mechanics by which natural selection worked to evolve such-and-such a trait.

Thirty-four years later, we can look back and say decisively that they failed, utterly.

For what I could find in the book, I thr to see that Dutton has made a case for an art instinct: Darwin himself operates in good faith, and his overriding assumption is that others do also, even when he fundamentally disagrees with them. But it should be clear that this is only the description of the possible representations one has, individually and culturally. If we continue to proceed without considering all the available evi- dence, we will only produce more of the polarized views that have been endemic to this troubled cor- ner of evolutionary thought.

Orians put forward a general account of the kind of ideal landscape that human beings would find intrinsically pleasurable. As I say, more, later. However, the debate is becoming a little aggressive. In my view, this amounts to a change of subject.