Seminar 3

Reading: Davies, Stephen. 2005. Ellen Dissanayake’s evolutionary aesthetic. Biology and Philosophy 20 (2): 291-304.

This is perhaps a more difficult text, but do your best with it. It picks up on ideas from Ellen Dissanayake’s work, which we will examine in lectures. I want us to focus on the discussion from the third full paragraph on p. 294 ‘Evolutionary theory might take one of three approaches to art…’

  1. Explain the three approaches to art that evolutionary theory might take.
  2. How does Dissanayake argue against the second option?
  3. How is the claim that ‘art making is universal’ ambiguous?
  4. What is the common view of ethologists about art behaviours’ adaptive purpose?
  5. How does Dissanayake argue against this view?
  6. What is her alternative suggestion?
  7. Why does Davies think, on page 297, that there is some intuitive support for this idea?
  8. How does Davies argue against Dissanayake’s account – what is his first line of objection that starts on p. 299?
  9. What is his second line of objection that he outlines on p. 300?
  10. What is the third objection that he presents on p. 301?
  11. Davies outlines 4 responses that Dissanayake could make. Can you identify them?