The Art Instinct

I note two reviews of this new study by Denis Dutton on the evolutionary biology behind our instinctual appreciation of the arts: they are by Roger Kimball in the TLS and Nigel Warburton in Prospect.

Kimball notes Dutton’s avoidance of the gleeful ‘”existential deflation” which might be expected when such stringent naturalistic terms are applied to concepts such as “beauty”; it remains however still “perforce a coming-down-to-earth” for aesthetics. Kimball also detects a thinness in Dutton’s treatment of the religion-art relationship, and notes a continued “craving for transcendence” in much contemporary discourse.