Denis Dutton - A Darwinian Theory of Beauty

One of the most difficult topics to explore and think about in philosophy has to do with questions of aesthetics. If we ignore boring and annoying platitudes like 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' (and I swear I'll strangle the next time person who recites this tired cliché), the question of what beauty is turns out to be exceedingly difficult to explain/define. Personally, I've done my best to avoid pretending I have anything interesting to say about the subject...

Philosopher Denis Dutton, however, thinks that he has found a possible answer: the Darwinian mechanisms of natural and sexual selection can offer the promise of guiding us in the direction of a general theory of beauty: where it comes from, why we experience it the way we do, as well as what kinds of things we could predict to have aesthetic value. He spells out some of these ideas in the following animated TEDTalk presentation:



Man, these animations are getting better and better :)

Although it sounds appealing in some respects, I can't be sure that Dutton's theory is any more than one of those 'just-so-stories' that one can conjure up to 'explain' some range of phenomena.

While I'm skeptical of it, I however, I do find it interesting and worth exploring further. I might just have to read his book...
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