Description

Homo Aestheticus

Where Art Comes From and Why

Ellen Dissanayake

  • $25.00s paperback (9780295974798) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 1995
  • Subject Listing: Visual Studies; Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 320 pp.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

"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"Homo Aestheticus offers a wealth of original and critical thinking. It will inform and irritate specialist, student, and lay reader alike."-American AnthropologistA thoughtful, elegant, and provocative analysis of aesthetic behavior in the development of our species-one that acknowledges its roots in the work of prior thinkers while opening new vistas for those yet to come. If you're reading just one book on art anthropology this year, make it hers."-Anthropology and Humanism

"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
Contents
Preface to the 1995 Edition
Preface to the Original Edition
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: Why Species-Centrism?
2. Biology and Art: The Implications of Feeling Good
3. The Core of Art: Making Special
4. Dromena, or "Things Done": Reconciling Culture and Nature
5. The Arts as Means of Enhancement
6. "Empathy Theory" Reconsidered: The Psychobiology of Aesthetic Responses
7. Does Writing Erase Art?
Notes
References
Index of Names
Index of Subjects
Credits
Reviews

"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

"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