A Darwinian Theory of Beauty

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?  Or the culturally conditioned eye of the beholder?  That’s the oft proffered explanation.  But why do the Japanese love Mozart?  Why is Shakespeare read the world over?  Denis Dutton argues that what people find beautiful is actually embedded in our cheap mlb jerseys DNA, not dictated by our culture or Soup our particular upbringing.  It’s a very interesting 15 minute speech, which you can see here in its entirety here.

Starting at 7:00, Mr. Dutton discusses a type of landscape every human being on the planet finds attractive:

“People in very different cultures all over the world tend to like a particular kind of landscape, a landscape that just happens to be similar to the pleistocene cheap nba jerseys savannas where we evolved . . . It’s a kind of Hudson River school landscape featuring open spaces of low grasses interspersed with copses of trees.  The trees, by the way, are often preferred if they fork near the ground, that is to say, if they’re trees you could scramble up if you were in a tight fix.  The landscape shows the presence of water directly in view or evidence of water in a bluish distance, indication of animal or bird life, as well as diverse greenery, and finally, get this, a path, or a road, or perhaps a riverbank or shoreline, that extends into the distance, almost inviting you to follow it.  This landscape type is regarded as beautiful even by people in countries that don’t have it.  The ideal savanna landscape is one of the clearest examples where human beings everywhere find beauty in similar visual experience.”

“But, somebody might argue, that’s natural beauty.  How about artistic beauty?  Isn’t that exhaustively cultural?  No, I don’t think it is.”

Mr. Dutton goes on to argue that, wholesale jerseys China at the most basic level, humans are programmed to find beauty in something done well.  This traces back 100,000 years, when early man would make hand axes as a display of their fitness as mating material.

But what does it mean to do something well?  If you’re in an established field, this seems easy: just do it better than most of the other people doing the same thing.

If you’re the first in your field, it gets more complicated.  If you’re first, there’s no standard against which to measure you.  The first impressionist works looked totally different from the “normal” art of the time.  Same with Van Gogh.  Jackson Pollock was even more radically different.  Van Gogh did something no one else was doing, but didn’t have any success during his life. Jackson Pollock did something no PPT one else was doing, Mein and had massive success.  The impressionists banded together and eventually became financially secure.

There are myriad reasons why some artists are wildly successful while others aren’t.  Jackson Pollock had Peggy Guggenheim prosthelytizing for him. cheap jerseys The impressionists had their own patrons to back them. Van Gogh was unknown until his desperate sister-in-law began marketing his work.

The bottom line is, if you’re doing something radically different from others, it’s often hard for the art itself to communicate the skill it took to create it.  If your art itself doesn’t communicate that, make sure you do.

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