The Biological Origins of Art

The Biological Origins of Art

The Biological Origins of Art

The Biological Origins of Art

Synopsis

Aiken weaves scientific research, theory, and philosophical thought into an explanation of the nature of art. The mystery of how art evokes emotion is unraveled and answers are found as to why we make art and why it is important to our survival as a species.

Excerpt

The germ of my thesis was brought to life several years ago when, as an artist, I stopped painting one day to ask, "Why do I paint?" I have hardly painted since that day. Instead, I have spent all available time with books and ideas instead of paint and paper. I hope that the years thus spent have produced the equal of one good painting.

In order to pursue answers to my original question and others that quickly followed: Why do people make art? What is so compelling about art? How does art evoke profound responses in its observers? I followed a course of interdisciplinary studies designed to help me find answers to these questions at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The one question that eventually became the problem I hoped to answer was the following: How does art evoke emotion? The disciplines that I hoped would help me find an answer were philosophy (aesthetics), psychology (cognitive and developmental), neuroethology, and fine arts. Not only do I think I have found a viable and even a testable answer to how art evokes emotion, but in the solution to that problem are answers to why we make art and why art is so compelling. In fact, the origins of art may be attributable to the emotional effects evoked by art behavior.

My sincere thanks to my early mentor, retired philosophy professor Warren Ruchti, retired art professor Erik Forrest, philosophy professor H. Gene Blocker, and neuroscience professors Ellengene Peterson and Michael Rowe. My special thanks goes to psychology professor Gary Schumacher. Thank you to zoology professors Jerome Rovner and Gerald Svendsen and to history professor Robert Whaley, who . . .

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