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ISBN: 9780199658541

Published: 28 Jan 13

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The Artful Species

Aesthetics, Art, and Evolution

Stephen Davies

The Artful Species explores the idea that our aesthetic responses and art behaviors are connected to our evolved human nature. Stephen Davies analyses the key concepts of the aesthetic, art, and evolution, and explores how they might be related. He considers a range of issues, including the consideration of whether animals have aesthetic tastes; whether art is not only universal but cross-culturally comprehensible; and the idea that our environmental and landscape preferences are rooted in the experiences of our distant ancestors. He argues that art serves as a powerful and complex signal of human fitness, and so cannot be incidental to biology. Indeed, aesthetic responses and art behaviors are the touchstones of our humanity.
  • A powerful new account of art and evolution
  • A leading expert draws together aesthetics and art theory with the scientific study of humans and animals
  • Lucid and compelling - no philosophical or scientific background assumed
Introduction to Part One
1: The aesthetic
2: The nature of art
3: The theory of evolution
4: How might the aesthetic, art, and evolution be related?
Introduction to Part Two - The Aesthetic
5: Humans' aesthetic appreciation of nonhuman animals
6: Landscape aesthetics
7: The aesthetics of human beauty
Introduction to Part Three - The Arts
8: General theories of art as an adaptation and the origins of art
9: Art as a spandrel
10: Art as a technology
11: Arts as adaptations
12: Conclusion

Stephen Davies, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Stephen Davies teaches philosophy at the University of Auckland. He writes mainly about aesthetics and the philosophy of art, and has written extensively on the definition of art, the ontological character of artworks, cross-cultural aesthetics, the expression of emotion in art, and the interpretation and evaluation of art.

His books include Musical Works and Performances (Clarendon, 2001), Themes in the Philosophy of Music (OUP, 2003), The Philosophy of Art (Blackwell, 2006), Philosophical Perspectives on Art (OUP, 2007), and Musical Understandings (OUP, 2011).