What evolutionary purpose is appreciation of beauty?

  • Thread starter dratsab
  • Start date
36
0

Main Question or Discussion Point

I know it could be used to say, find a good place to live, since we find water beautiful. But what about those that admire deserts? What about admiration of non-visual art? What benefits did they bring? I suppose some could be social.
 

Answers and Replies

204
0
Pattern recognition is very important to survival.
 
Beauty brings along a sense of comfort, which allows proper metabolism. Anything can become "beautiful", as long as it's associated with positive feelings. A desert will be the prettiest place in the world if you and your camel are outrunning a pack of lions. (personnal view)
 
30
0
Beauty leads to happiness. Happiness leads to survival.

I know MANY people that music/art/etc. gets them through tough times, myself included. Whenever I have a garbagety day, I come home, listen to some music, and I feel better. I feel re energized and I can continue on with my life.

Happiness is critical for survival.
 
175
0
I am really not at all sure where from comes this notion that there needs to be an evolutionary explanation for every facet of the human condition. There undoubtedly is an entirely scientifically robust explanation for why we developed our large brains and the exceptional intelligence with which we are blessed. But there does not necessarily exist a scientific evolutionary explanation for every use to which we put that ability.
 
173
1
Beauty seems fairly important to a peahen!
 
175
0
Not sure of your point mugaliens. Birds of paradise are certainly a stunning demonstration of the power of evolution by sexual selection. The outlandish males are entirely the result of very choosy females. Are you seriously suggesting that, evolutionarily, this is essentially the same phenomenon as human appreciation of art?
 
Not sure of your point mugaliens. Birds of paradise are certainly a stunning demonstration of the power of evolution by sexual selection. The outlandish males are entirely the result of very choosy females. Are you seriously suggesting that, evolutionarily, this is essentially the same phenomenon as human appreciation of art?
We discussed this in another thread and someone posted this article. Its quite good.

http://www.unm.edu/~gfmiller/new_papers2/miller 2001 aesthetic.doc
Note that is a link directly to a word doc download.

And yes it asserts that human aesthetics, including art, likely come from sexual selection.
 
Pythagorean
Gold Member
4,133
253
But the appreciation of art itself could still be a spandel wouldn't it? It may be rooted in an "evolutionary purpose" historically, but the actual appreciation of art itself may not have any selection pressure associated with it.
 
russ_watters
Mentor
19,016
5,168
Beauty = health, strength.....fitness.
 
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
russ_watters
Mentor
19,016
5,168
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
russ_watters
Mentor
19,016
5,168
When I think of health, strength and fitness, I don't think of landscapes :wink:
I mean is there a difference in the brain functions for each.
 
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
I mean is there a difference in the brain functions for each.
Well..when I see a healthy guy vs. look at a pretty landscape, I get a different reaction :uhh:
 
Evo
Mentor
22,877
2,370
Baby animals do it for me.
 
russ_watters
Mentor
19,016
5,168
Well..when I see a healthy guy vs. look at a pretty landscape, I get a different reaction :uhh:
That suggests two things to me:
1. You can't appreciate the attractiveness of a man without becoming sexually aroused.
2. You see the issue as binary: attractive and unattractive; with nothing in between.

Is that really what you meant to convey?

Anyway, I really didn't intend or want this banter. I figured the point would be easy to understand and seem as self-evident to others as it is to me, but apparently not. So here it is, laid as bare as I can make it: and though I thought it up on my own, it's easy to verify with a quick google that what I'm describing is a mainstream view:
Aesthetic ornamentation in other species almost always results from sexual selection through mate choice, and sexually-selected ornaments usually function as indicators of fitness – good health, good brains, and good genes. This paper suggests that human art capacities evolved in the same way, with aesthetic judgement evolving in the service of mate choice.
http://www.unm.edu/~psych/faculty/aesthetic_fitness.htm

Translation: we find art and landscapes attractive because we evolved to find our mates attractive.
 
Last edited:
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
That suggests two things to me:
1. You can't appreciate the attractiveness of a man without becoming sexually aroused.
2. You see the issue as binary: attractive and unattractive; with nothing in between.
Wow, you're really waaaay out there!

Well it's not unusual for men to interpret women as if they were men, but with the gender parity switched. It's not uncommon. It's wrong, but not uncommon.

But you're right, that's OT.
 
175
0
I am a little surprised by where the weight of opinion appears to be on this thread, but believe me, I do not overestimate the degree to which anyone cares what I think. Let me just ask this question to those who think that an appreciation of beauty is an entirely evolved function of sexual selection. Do you think that every aspect of human behaviour, of human preference, of human habit, all of it is ultimately traceable to some evolutionary explanation or another? It seems to me that we are more than just the sum total of our evolutionary history and our genes. I will be astonished to find myself alone in that opinion.
 
Pythagorean
Gold Member
4,133
253
I think most biologists agree with you, Ken:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandrel_(biology [Broken])
 
Last edited by a moderator:
DaveC426913
Gold Member
18,329
1,940
I concur. This kind of "abstract appreciation" is an emergent property of a hugely complex organ that is the conscious human brain.

Note that evolution is absolutely rife with examples of traits that emerged from some other evolutionary trait, but then became useful on their own (such as feathers, which were not initially useful for flight).

- nay, even rife is too weak a word; I would say one of the very founding principles of evolution is that traits that evolve to suit one purpose actually end up providing a benefit in a completely different way.
 
I know it could be used to say, find a good place to live, since we find water beautiful. But what about those that admire deserts? What about admiration of non-visual art? What benefits did they bring? I suppose some could be social.
non-visual? you mean like music? i imagine there must be some utility for hunting. imitating calls, and recognizing them, goes a long way towards luring and finding game. tone deafness would be a hindrance. hmm, maybe the mechanics at least of speech evolved from men instead of women, after all.
 
russ_watters
Mentor
19,016
5,168
Let me just ask this question to those who think that an appreciation of beauty is an entirely evolved function of sexual selection. Do you think that every aspect of human behaviour, of human preference, of human habit, all of it is ultimately traceable to some evolutionary explanation or another? It seems to me that we are more than just the sum total of our evolutionary history and our genes. I will be astonished to find myself alone in that opinion.
Don't read more into what I said than what I actually said.
 
175
0
Don't read more into what I said than what I actually said.
Okay, I shall not, and I did not. I asked a genuine question. Conspicuously, you didn't answer it.
 
russ_watters
Mentor
19,016
5,168
The answer is no and you should not have read into my post that I would have answered yes. You read more into what I said than what I said.
 

Related Threads for: What evolutionary purpose is appreciation of beauty?

Replies
21
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
4K
Replies
3
Views
346
  • Last Post
2
Replies
36
Views
11K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • Last Post
6
Replies
139
Views
21K
  • Last Post
3
Replies
68
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
2K
Top