An introductory textbook in ep theory of art

Dennis Dutton does not really say anything new to me; his arguments rehash things already said by others -- Tooby and Comides, Pinker, Boyer, Dessanayake. But his book is the first presentation of evolutionary psychology theory focused entirely on the question of art; and for art lovers like you, this well may be just the introductory text you have been waiting for.

In great abbreviation, his point is that there really is such a thing as art -- a certain kind of human activity present in all peoples and all cultures, genetically inborn, which unfolds in us spontaneously because it is part of the behavioral DNA package. He speaks with a special kind of expertise (which I recognize as of my own sort): as a youth he has studied the sitar in Hyderabad; and more recently, tribal wood carving in New Guinea. Which means that he knows first-hand about art and art-experience in other cultures, something which the usual grand theorists of culture - Danto, Barthes et al. - do not.

Watch this lecture (about 1 hour) to get a better sense of the theory.

Or just read the book.


Andrew W. said...

Sir G, this was fascinating, even though I don't like Dutton at all!

Sir G said...

haven't actually read it since it seemed to me a rehash of stuff i'd already read elsewhere; the only thing that interests me in dutton is his perception, based on direct experience, that no high-brow art connoisseur from one culture will ever have any problem at all appreciating high-brow art of another

Andrew W. said...

So the "brows" are objects of empirical study, then? Interesting....

Sir G said...

yes, of course, i am a living experiment myself
i empirically determine how it is

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