A Darwinian theory of beauty

Denis Dutton's TED talk uses evolution to explain beauty.

I love this TED talk by Denis Dutton of Arts & Letters Daily fame. He uses evolution to explain beauty, and it’s illustrated in the same style (by the same person) as the RSA talks. I’m particularly drawn to the scientific approach to art, a crossover that positively reeks of the kind of cross-discipline thinking that I encounter at Sci Foo. I’m putting together the program for Kiwi Foo, and I hope to have the same fertile intersection of ideas.

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  • Alex Tolley

    Actually he doesn’t really explain beauty at all.
    He hypothesizes that what we see as beauty (which largely remains undefined) is driven by evolution.

    His idea that Acheulian era hand axes are art, rather than tools alone is speculation, not fact. The ‘preferred landscape’ forms as Pleistocene savanna is well known speculation too.

    The problem with such ideas is that they explain little and become Kiplinesque ‘just so’ stories.

    I think we can argue that the changing preferred shape of women over history in art alone questions the hypothesis.

    In summary, he just substitutes beauty for fitness, leaving us with the tautology of defining beauty as something that was selected for.