Survival of the beautiful: art, science, and evolution.

Survival of the beautiful: art, science, and evolution. David Rothenberg.
Survival of the beautiful: art, science, and evolution.

London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012. Octavo, paperback, colour photographs and illustrations, black and white photographs and illustrations.

One of Darwin's main struggles was that the theory of evolution as adaptation couldn't explain why nature is so beautiful. It took his concept of sexual selection for Darwin to explain that some processes have more to do with aesthetics than the practical. Sexual selection may explain why animals desire, but it says very little about what they desire. Why will a bowerbird literally murder another bird to decorate its bower with the victim's blue feathers? Why do butterfly wings boast such brilliantly varied patterns? The beauty of nature is not arbitrary, even if random mutation has played a role in evolution. Taking inspiration from Darwin's observation that animals have a natural aesthetic sense, philosopher and musician David Rothenberg probes why animals, humans included, have innate appreciation for beauty-and why nature is, indeed, beautiful. This book is a revolutionary new examination of the interplay of beauty, art, and culture in evolution.

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