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Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes from and Why

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

All human societies throughout history have given a special place to the arts. Even nomadic peoples who own scarcely any material possessions embellish what they do own, decorate their bodies, and celebrate special occasions with music, song, and dance. A fundamentally human appetite or need is being expressed--and met--by artistic activity. As Ellen Dissanayake argues in this stimulating and intellectually far-ranging book, only by discovering the natural origins of this human need of art will we truly know what art is, what it means, and what its future might be. Describing visual display, poetic language, song and dance, music, and dramatic performance as ways by which humans have universally, necessarily, and immemorially shaped and enhanced the things they care about, Dissanayake shows that aesthetic perception is not something that we learn or acquire for its own sake but is inherent in the reconciliation of culture and nature that has marked our evolution as humans. What "artists" do is an intensification and exaggeration of what "ordinary people" do, naturally and with enjoyment--as is evident in premodern societies, where artmaking is universally practiced. Dissanayake insists that aesthetic experience cannot be properly understood apart from the psychobiology of sense, feeling, and cognition--the ways we spontaneously and commonly think and behave. If homo aestheticus seems unrecognizable in today's modern and postmodern societies, it is so because "art" has been falsely set apart from life, while the reductive imperatives of an acquisitive and efficiency-oriented culture require us to ignore or devalue the aesthetic part of our nature. Dissanayake's original and provocativeapproach will stimulate new thinking in the current controversies regarding multi-cultural curricula and the role of art in education. Her ideas also have relevance to contemporary art and social theory and will be of interest to all who care strongly about the arts and thei

Synopsis:

Dissanayake argues that art was central to human evolutionary adaptation and that the aesthetic faculty is a basic psychological component of every human being. In her view, art is intimately linked to the origins of religious practices and to ceremonies of birth, death, transition, and transcendence. Drawing on her years in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea, she gives examples of painting, song, dance, and drama as behaviors that enable participants to grasp and reinforce what is important to their cognitive world. --Publishers Weekly

A wide-ranging essay on the place of art in human evolution and in the future, at once learned and spirited.--Howard Gardner, Harvard University

Ellen Dissanayake's book is the most forceful rejoinder I've read so far to the trivializing pessimism of postmodernist art theory.--Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

Affirm s] the idea that art is for life's sake, for the fulfillment of fundamental human needs, and for human survival. . . . She gives us a coherent rationale for funding broadly based arts programs. --Art Therapy

Homo Aestheticus offers a wealth of original and critical thinking. It will inform and irritate specialist, student, and lay reader alike. --American Anthropologist

Homo Aestheticus calls for a counterrevolution in our thinking about art. It is timely, provocative, and immensely valuable. --Philosophy and Literature

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 255-271) and indexes.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780295974798
Author:
Dissanayake, Ellen
Publisher:
University of Washington Press
Location:
Seattle :
Subject:
Criticism
Subject:
Aesthetics
Subject:
Criticism - General
Subject:
Criticism -- Theory.
Subject:
Art-Theory and Criticism
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1st University of Washington Press ed.
Series Volume:
237
Publication Date:
19950131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.20x6.17x.79 in. 1.06 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Theory and Criticism
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Philosophy » Aesthetics
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes from and Why New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$26.25 In Stock
Product details 320 pages University of Washington Press - English 9780295974798 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Dissanayake argues that art was central to human evolutionary adaptation and that the aesthetic faculty is a basic psychological component of every human being. In her view, art is intimately linked to the origins of religious practices and to ceremonies of birth, death, transition, and transcendence. Drawing on her years in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea, she gives examples of painting, song, dance, and drama as behaviors that enable participants to grasp and reinforce what is important to their cognitive world. --Publishers Weekly

A wide-ranging essay on the place of art in human evolution and in the future, at once learned and spirited.--Howard Gardner, Harvard University

Ellen Dissanayake's book is the most forceful rejoinder I've read so far to the trivializing pessimism of postmodernist art theory.--Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

Affirm s] the idea that art is for life's sake, for the fulfillment of fundamental human needs, and for human survival. . . . She gives us a coherent rationale for funding broadly based arts programs. --Art Therapy

Homo Aestheticus offers a wealth of original and critical thinking. It will inform and irritate specialist, student, and lay reader alike. --American Anthropologist

Homo Aestheticus calls for a counterrevolution in our thinking about art. It is timely, provocative, and immensely valuable. --Philosophy and Literature

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