Denis Dutton is the founder and editor of the hugely popular web site Arts & Letters Daily. He also founded and edits the journal Philosophy and Literature, and is a professor of the philosophy of art at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
Dennis has a new book out, The Art Instinct - Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution. Below is Dennis talking about his book at Authors@Google.
The Art Instinct combines two fascinating and contentious disciplines—art and evolutionary science—in a provocative new work that will change forever the way we think about the arts, from painting to literature to movies to pottery. Human tastes in the arts, Dutton argues, are evolutionary traits, shaped by Darwinian selection. They are not, as the past century of art criticism and academic theory would have it, just socially constructed.
Our love of beauty is inborn, and many aesthetic tastes are shared across remote cultures. Using forceful logic and hard evidence, Dutton shows that we must premise art criticism on an understanding of evolution, not on abstract theory. He restores the place of beauty, pleasure, and skill as artistic values.