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The Evolutionary Advantage of Artistic Skills

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The Evolutionary Advantage of Artistic Skills
Maggie Ritten
Monday, September 30, 2013
Prof.Carrier
Psych 108

In the articles I read, the origin of art is highly contested. However, that is irrelevant to the question of the evolutionary advantage of art creation. In strict Darwinian terms, selective advantage is a characteristic of an organism that enables it to survive and reproduce better than other organisms.1 Under this definition, there is a selective advantage for creating art. Creating art requires advanced cognitive dexterity and communication through display. Both of these skills are important towards survival and reproduction. But before answering the original question, we must answer a few first. What is art? Although it is a drawn out cliché, the issue must be addressed. The best definition I could come up with is the combination of two definitions. Zaidel believes art attracts attention and elicits an aesthetic-related response.2 This definition is over-inclusive; if anything that attracts attention is art then is a traffic cone art? According to Haselberger, works of art are objects produced with the intention that they be aesthetically pleasing and not merely pragmatically functional.3 This definition is under inclusive, limiting art to solely be “pleasing”. Art attracts attention and elicits an aesthetic-related response but it is beyond functionality. This definition also helps to differentiate between art and tools, which are two similar but not equal things. Art is more about aesthetics while tools are more about functionality. Tool-making and art-creating are comparable but not the same. Art is more advanced than tools because tools are needed to make art. Tools must have been made before the creation of art. “The neural changes required for this fundamental shift in artistic potential must have pre-dated both practice and the cultural incorporation of artistic tradition. [Art’s] origin and evolution may have corresponded to the origin and increasing sophistication of

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