Thursday, March 14, 2013

is art evolutionary?


in the new york times, an attractive cogitation on the origins of moral norms by iain de witt. here's an interesting conclusion:
A four-dimensional scheme for social behavior that is shaped by interlocking brain processes: (1) caring (rooted in attachment to kin and kith and care for their well-being), (2) recognition of others’ psychological states (rooted in the benefits of predicting the behavior of others), (3) problem-solving in a social context (e.g., how we should distribute scarce goods, settle land disputes; how we should punish the miscreants), and (4) learning social practices (by positive and negative reinforcement, by imitation, by trial and error, by various kinds of conditioning, and by analogy).
 philosopher patricia churchland does the logistry.

what i'd like to do is to extrapolate her conclusion above into the realm of art. i.e., what does this do?

eviscerated bison in lascaux caves

let's leave aside the notion of representation as meme. re-presentation is clearly symbolic. art, 1- identifies an action pattern for the ancient paleolithic human, 2- it condenses images as "magic" (an epistemic as well as cultural practice), 3- as art evolves, from 1 & 2, into cultural habits (religion is another example) that are passed on throughout generations, art becomes a self-evolutionary mechanism.

this conclusion better contextualizes contemporary aesthetics' received picture of kantian purposelessness, arthoodication, etc, by demoting art's value for the sake of art's needs.

3 comments:

Malagodi said...

Why is it always necessary to separate art from the artist? As Cage said, "When you separate music from life, you get art." That is, art as the artifact of the living creators action.

We are a species of chatterers and arm wavers (gesturers). The homo sapien brain/mind evolved to tell stories, and tell stories it must.

Art is the artifact of this un-supressable need. It cannot be "self-evolutionary mechanism" because it is not a mechanism that can be divorced from its creator. Only as a commodity can art be a mechanism; an object of commerce or control.

The only 'purpose' of the creative act itself can - and must be - as a personal reaction to being incommunicado. This is the "purpose of purposelessness" to once again quote Cage. A necessary response to the intolerable situation described by Blaise Pascal thusly:

"Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be completely at rest, without passions, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness. There will immediately rise from the depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation, despair."

Alfredo Triff said...

Art is the artifact of this un-supressable need. It cannot be "self-evolutionary mechanism" because it is not a mechanism that can be divorced from its creator.

what exactly do you mean malagodi? :)

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