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Thu, Dec. 8th, 2005, 09:41 pm
lil_goat: Chapter 10

In chapter 10, Wilson attempted to explain how the arts can link themselves to the natural sciences. The important question to be answered can be approached from a scientific perspective. That is, where do the arts come from? Wilson noted that science can also play a major role in the understanding of how humans interpret and critique art. The defining quality of the arts is that they express human nature using mood and feeling and creativity. Psychoanalysts have tried to understand the creative nature of humans, but they have failed because they refuse to explore creativity in a conciliate fashion.
In order to understand the origins of art, Wilson suggested that we look to gene-culture coevolution. What scientists know about the origins of art fits with scientific knowledge about the brain and its biological evolution. Wilson also suggested that the arts evolved after humans were endowed with high intelligence. This intelligence led to humans reflecting on their own mortality. Arts evolved to help humans understand and interpret some kind of control over their lives. The arts bestowed magic upon people and their lives. Evidence of this was found in numerous cave drawings, which tend to depict hunting as a magical experience.
Wilson also linked his concept of epigenetic rules to the arts. He said that artists tend to create art that stays within a set of epigenetic rules. He listed several archetypes that are found over and over again- for example, creation stories, the apocalypse, the hero triumphing over evil, and objects bestowed with great magical properties (such as the sorcerer’s stone or the holy grail).
Finally, Wilson explained that the biological origins of art are a working hypothesis. He suggested we test the hypothesis by looking to evolutionary theory. For example, he explained that when people are showed composites of many faces, they tend to be more attractive than any one face. However, this average face is not the most attractive face that can be found. Numerous studies (and every image one can find in an issue of Vogue) have shown that there is no upper limit to the epigenetic rule for choosing the mate with the most, be it colorful wings, high cheekbones, or size.