Survival of the Beautiful

Survival of the Beautiful

Art, Science, and Evolution

Book - 2011 | 1st U.S. ed
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"Survival of the Beautiful is a revolutionary new examination of the role that art and culture play in nature and the evolutionary process. Taking his inspiration from Charles Darwin's observation that birds have a natural aesthetic sense, Rothenberg dives into the mysteries of why we create art, and why animals, humans included, have innate appreciation for beauty. Sexual selection may explain why animals desire, but it says very little about what is desired. The beauty of nature is not arbitrary, even if random mutation and whim have played a part in evolution. Where does the diverse beauty of bird plumage come from? Why do different species of butterflies have different-and beautiful-patterns on their wings? What can we learn from the amazing range of animal aesthetic behavior? And what about the role of art in human evolution? Art is a part of life that has been around for millions of years, yet we rarely ask or explore why and how. Now is the time to find out where beauty comes from. Beauty has come from millions of years of the magic of evolution, and now it is time to let it find us. The evolution of artistry in the animal world can once again help us understand how beauty matters in the human world too"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781608192168
Branch Call Number: 701.05 ROTHENBE
Characteristics: viii, 311 pages, [16] pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Art, science, and evolution


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Jun 12, 2012

I can't believe I read the whole thing! The book contains some interesting facts. That prompted me to try and get through it, although I almost gave up several times. Some of the research Rothenberg includes on the commonalities of human visual perception and preferences intrigued me. Yet, the flaws in his thesis became increasingly apparent, and, ultimately reading Survival of the Beautiful was a frustrating and unsatisfactory experience. Like a number of my students, this author seems to confuse gathering compelling tidbits of information with acquiring knowledge. What's missing here is rigorous inquiry and critical thinking. At no point, for instance, does Rothenberg problematize the terms "art" or "beautiful". More flaky than scholarly and riddled with pompous (unexamined) pronouncements, avoid.


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