Books  General Natural History  Art 

The Art Instinct

Out of Print

By: Denis Dutton

288 pages, 5 colour plates

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Feb 2009 | #178267 | ISBN-13: 9780199539420
Out of Print Details

About this book

The Dinka have a connoisseur's appreciation of the patterns and colours of the markings on their cattle. The Japanese tea ceremony is regarded as a performance art. Some cultures produce carving but no drawing; others specialize in poetry. Yet despite the rich variety of artistic expression to be found across many cultures, we all share a deep sense of aesthetic pleasure. The need to create art of some form is found in every human society. In The Art Instinct, Denis Dutton explores the idea that this need has an evolutionary basis: how the feelings that we all share when we see a wonderful landscape or a beautiful sunset evolved as a useful adaptation in our hunter-gather ancestors, and have been passed on to us today, manifest in our artistic natures.

Why do people indulge in displaying their artistic skills? How can we understand artistic genius? Why do we value art, and what is it for? These questions have long been asked by scholars in the humanities and in literature, but this is the first book to consider the biological basis of this deep human need. This sparking and intelligent book looks at these deep and fundamental questions, and combines the science of evolutionary psychology with aesthetics, to shed new light on longstanding questions about the nature of art.


Introduction; 1. But they don't have our concept of art; 2. Aesthetic perception: Pot People and Basket Folk; 3. A naturalist definition of art; 4. Art and human nature; 5. Landscape and longing; 6. Art and evolution: natural selection; 7. Art and evolution: sexual selection; 8. Art and authenticity; 9. Genius and innovation; 10. The reality of beauty

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this product. Be the first to review this product!

Bestsellers in this subject

The Unfeathered Bird

NHBS Price: £34.95 $43/€39 approx

The Elegant Fowl

NHBS Price: £22.50 $28/€25 approx

Birds in Norfolk

NHBS Price: £49.99 $61/€56 approx

Observations of Wildlife

NHBS Price: £15.99 $20/€18 approx

Bird Man's River

NHBS Price: £34.99 $43/€39 approx