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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The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution

The book explains more than any other that I know, but I hope some empiricist keeps working on this and writes one that goes still further. But it should be clear that this is only the description of the possible representations one has, individually and culturally.

The author doesn’t focus on this too much, and I wasn’t really expecting him to. Denis Dutton – – Bloomsbury Press. What does Dutton mean by saying that art is grounded in universal biological impulses? Jun 20, Bill Gusky cutton it deniw it.

Occasionally irate academic becalmed in his own backwater mentality fails to deliver the book this subject deserves. Suppose that you see a broom standing on the corner of a Modern Art Museum. I thank Dennis Dutton to have pointed to me the link where Instnct could read the preface of his book.

Mar 14, Josh Eckert rated it it was amazing. Perhaps I’m missing the point. Bill Benzon 1 May A first-class critique, whether negative dennis positive in tone, subsumes the subject within some distinct perspective articulated in a coherent, integrated set of propositions.


But there were many points before that where I thought the text should hit its stride, particularly Chapter 5: When the idea of selection is placed in antithesis to the idea of constraints, it ceases altogether to be an intelligible idea.

Denis Dutton, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution – PhilPapers

I’ll confess up front I’m skeptical of this as an end all argument. I went away in a real rage.

Denis Dutton faced criticism from the entire continent of art theorists to research and publish his work. Culture still has a role to play—evolution might influence the desirably body types, but fads and fashions contribute to changing representations throughout history.

The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution by Denis Dutton

With humanity, society, culture, history, language aft. It was because I could not stand the approach to reading literature that English programs promote. I was instinxt less excited about Dutton’s take on postmodern ethnography and his weird repetition of the physical characteristics of women as they apply I began this book with unbounded optimism, excited to hear a Darwinian take on the human drive for creativity. If we do not pursue such reasonable courses of action, we may become mired in myth making rather than remaining on the shores of sound scientific inquiry.

It takes him forever to get to the point—he loves lists in which each point is several paragraphs long. In my opinion, he fails to do so. I just kept thinking of all the past empires that sacrificed the stability of their environments to produce pointless monuments and how much of a role art is playing in our global environmental crisis.


This is a controversial point, and Dutton argues for it convincingly.

Discourse either focused on insstinct art in whatever medium functioned as a language, or it focused not on the construction of art but rather the experience of the perceiver. Darwinian aesthetics can restore the vital place of beauty, skill and pleasure as high artistic values.

Despite the efforts of ideologues like Gould, Lewontin, and Kamin, the humanities and the social sciences have now become part of an open intellectual environment.

This is a well written work, accessible to a general audience, on the linkage between art and evolution. I would expect a whole area of experimental aesthetics to fluorish here; but so far, the results of this forthcoming research programme are a desideratum, not a fact.

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting ideas in this book but there’s also a lot of pedantry and questionable analysis, and in my opinion he should have put more focus in other areas. However, I did skim though Gordon H. Why write an entire passage about smell and art that seems to ignore this work?

At boldness of the two claims is pretty clear.