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Seghers Eveline | Other
2014-09-08 - 2014-10-19 | Research area: Cognition and Sociality
Adaptationist and Co-evolutionary Reasoning on Art: A Methodological Inquiry into the Theoretical Foundations of Evolutionary Hypotheses on Art
The evolutionary study of art is an upcoming area of research that has drawn the attention of scholars in humanities disciplines such as art history and archaeology, as well as in fields that are already accustomed with evolutionary and cognitive thought, such as psychology and anthropology. The amount research done on art is still rather limited, and insufficient attention has been paid to its methodological foundations. As a consequence, a large number of theoretical, conceptual, and methodological issues remain to be clarified and elaborated upon in order to advance an evolutionary understanding of art. This project focuses on the legitimization of adaptionist claims, through an assessment of the current set of arguments provided in favor of such theories. Existing hypotheses tend to focus on attributing different functions to art, while little thought has been given to whether artistic behavior, through any of the proposed functions, should increase differential reproductive success. While several authors have tried to accommodate this gap, many questions still remain to be solved, and new promising approaches are awaiting further development. In addition, this proposal explores the as yet underestimated possibilities of gene-culture co-evolution and cultural evolution frameworks. The latter are continuously applied for studying a variety of human behaviors, but are generally neglected when it comes to art. Examining these frameworks will not only deepen our current understanding of art from an evolutionary and cognitive perspective; it can also shed light on some of the outstanding issues in the adaptionist debate on art. In sum, this project aims to gather various scattered hypotheses and ideas while also addressing a number of methodological issues, with the aim of achieving an integrated and theoretically sound evolutionary framework of the arts.