Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

October 8, 2013
by Aesthetics for Birds

For Evolution, Beauty Is as Beauty Does

What follows is a guest post by Mohan Matthen. Mohan is Professor of Philosophy and Senior Canada Research Chair at University of Toronto. He has published numerous articles on issues in philosophy of biology and sense perception and is the author of Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception (Oxford: Claredon Press, 2005). This post also appears at New APPS (here). What is it to find something beautiful? To take pleasure in looking at it, or in listening to it, or in otherwise contemplating it. One might find the proof of the Pythagorean theorem beautiful. If this is literally true, it is because intellectually contemplating it gives one pleasure. But let’s stick to the senses, and pleasure in gazing or listening. Why have we evolved to have a sense of beauty? That is, why do we take pleasure in contemplating certain things? (I’ll just assume that the … Continue reading