Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4064
Author(s):
Jan Verpooten
conference paper description
Sexual selection theory provides interesting tools to address the evolution of human art behavior as it contains models that explain the evolution of elaborate male display traits and these traits exhibit conspicuous similarities with human art behavior. In sexual selection theory, it is recently suggested sensory exploitation hypothesis offers a valuable alternative to good genes and Fisherian runaway. Because, one, it can explain the origins of male display traits while good genes and Fisherian runaway cannot, and two, it can even explain how these traits are maintained, namely without the need of any selection on female preferences in the sexual context, thus solely by female sensory biases maintained by selection in another context. Good genes and Fisherian runaway were previously applied to model the evolution of human art and aesthetics. The above implies application of sensory exploitation to model human art could offer a valuable addition to these models. I use some of the concepts (like dual inheritance) developed by the authors of the cultural runaway hypothesis, Boyd and Richerson, to develop a model for the evolution of art based on sensory exploitation hypothesis applied to the cultural level, which I call cultural sensory exploitation hypothesis. Boyd and Richerson's model suggest human aesthetic and artistic expression evolve as a consequence of a cultural runaway process, but in my proposed model they can originate even without this process. Finally, I use this hypothesis to address the conundrum of the creative explosion, a burst of elaborate art some 50,000 years ago and the sudden emergence of cave paintings. I conclude that some evidence indicates that the creative explosion was a consequence of a change in effective population size (i.e. interacting pool of social learners), which made maintenance of innovations necessary for the production of elaborate art possible. These innovations were maintained and selected because they offered the ability to (self)exploit preexisting sensory biases through art. In this view it does not matter whether art initially served any function in human evolution as it readily evolves as a mere consequence of sensory biases. In other words I suggest that the incidental exploitability of sensory biases through art may be the most fundamental driving force behind the origin of art and that it may play an important role in its subsequent maintenance and evolution as well.

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