Re: Robin's Arts Post (Was Re: Extropic Flare In NY Art Scene

Eric Watt Forste (
Mon, 27 Sep 1999 14:22:34 -0700

Robin Hanson apparently wrote:
> I have hope that evolutionary psychology is onto some insights into
> why we have evolved to be the sort of creatures who like to do art.
> Hopefully these insights will help explain many of these puzzling
> details.

It has long been my opinion that human artistic behavior is primarily a product of sexual selection, not natural selection. People who can sing, paint, draw, dance, etc. in a very pleasing way give evidence of having sufficient wealth (in the form of leisure time) to be attractive mates.

This doesn't immediately help explain any puzzling details, but if you want to look at art from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, I think a clear understanding of Darwin's distinction between natural selection and sexual selection is essential.

(Usual, even stereotypical, examples of sexual selection among other species include the antlers of the Irish elk and the tail of the peacock. Those are physical rather than behavioral structures, and this is another thing we need to keep in mind in order to avoid oversimplistic application of the idea of sexual selection.)

Eric Watt Forste <>