Inside Story

Current affairs & culture from Australia and beyond

181 words

Evolution and creativity

19 May 2009

Peter Clarke talks to Denis Dutton about his book, The Art Instinct

Right:

Claude Dagenais/iStockphoto

Claude Dagenais/iStockphoto



IT’S RELATIVELY easy to accept the fundamentals of evolutionary science when it seeks to describe changes in physical features through the processes of natural selection. But it becomes harder when evolutionary pyschologists argue that our ways of thinking, use of language and even creating and appreciating art also evolved during the time of our Pleistocene ancestors. In 1994, Stephen Pinker was praised and attacked for his book The Language Instinct. Now, a philosopher of art from the University of Canterbury, Denis Dutton, has “reverse engineered” his analyses of our artistic creativity and cultural behaviours in the twenty-first century to argue that humans evolved an aesthetic urge from the dawn of the species. The inevitable fierce debate has erupted again both within the evolutionary science community and across the science–religion fault lines. Via Skype from his home in Christchurch, New Zealand, Professor Dutton tells about the thrust of his new book, The Art Instinct.

Listen here

Denis Dutton’s personal site

The Art Instinct site

Arts and Letters Daily edited by Denis Dutton

Podcast theme created by Ivan Clarke, Pang Productions.

Read next

647 words

Far right in Europe’s far north

16 September 2014

Electoral advances by the national Sweden Democrats at last Sunday’s election pose a challenge to cosmopolitan Sweden and the incoming Social Democrat–led government, writes Andrew Vandenberg

Right:

Swastikas long gone: supporters of Sweden Democrats during a rally in July this year. Johan Wessman/News Øresund (CC BY 3.0)

Swastikas long gone: supporters of Sweden Democrats during a rally in July this year. Johan Wessman/News Øresund (CC BY 3.0)