Art as a Technology

Stephen Davies

in The Artful Species

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199658541
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746253 | DOI:
Art as a Technology

Show Summary Details


Some evolutionists see culture as a self-elaborating structure resting on rather general, ancient biological adaptations, such as intelligence and creativity. This implies that the arts and most cultural inventions are technologies far removed from biology. The neuroscientist Aniruddh Patel defends the idea that music is a transformational technology, like fire. It lacks many of the attributes that mark language as an adaptation, such as developmental robustness. However, when the relevant behaviors are compared at an appropriate level, it looks as if the contrast between music and language is overdrawn by Patel. At the same time there are disanalogies between music and fire. Fire is much more end- than process-oriented than is music, and is valued for more direct survival benefits. More generally, there is reason to be wary of models, like this one, that assume a decisive separation of biology from culture.

Keywords: adaptation; art; by-product; culture; fire; language; music; technology

Chapter.  5214 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.