Humans’ Aesthetic Appreciation of Nonhuman Animals

Stephen Davies

in The Artful Species

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199658541
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746253 | DOI:
Humans’ Aesthetic Appreciation of Nonhuman Animals

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Having traced the intimacy of humans’ relationship to and dependence on animals from our earliest history, this chapter lists a variety of aesthetic approaches that can be adopted toward them. Some of these connect to biology. For instance, admiring their adaptedness to the environment or finding them beautiful or ugly according to the role they played in our ancestors’ lives. (Think of our attitude to spiders.) Other responses are not biologically founded. For example, we might regard them as arrays of color and form in motion. Not all biologically based aesthetic responses are adaptive. Those that depend on our tendency to anthropomorphize animals or falsify their nature may be maladaptive. And some approaches are easier to adopt than others. To admire the beauty with which a vulture is matched to its lifeway, we might need to put aside a prior distaste for that way of life.

Keywords: adaptedness; the aesthetic; animals; art; domestication; lifeway; pets

Chapter.  10545 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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