Art as Survival

February 2, 2009

The Art Instinct 

The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution author Denis Dutton is interviewed in brief by Elizabeth Cline at SeedMagazine.com on the arts as evolutionary adaptations. Dutton has an interesting take on the role of the imagination for survival.


Cline: In your opinion, how does evolution explain art?

Dutton: The arts, in my view, are largely extensions and intensifications of Pleistocene adaptations. I think that we evolved as natural storytellers in the Pleistocene, and that the survival value that accrued as a result of our fluent imaginative capacities was immense. That's why storytelling is so pleasurable. It's a way to think hypothetically about the world and its problems. It's a low-risk way to solve survival problems in the imagination. It's also a source of information. It grew along with the size of the human brain and accounts for our domination of other species. Read the whole interview.


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