Why do people make art? Given that human art-making emerged tens of thousands of years ago and is such an integral part of most human societies, why we make art is an important question. Philosophers have been trying to answer this question for a long time. More recently, scientists have begun to explore explanations for human art making. Neuroscientists have looked at the proximate mechanisms of art: how art-making emerges from the combination of our sensory biases and our anatomical capabilities. And evolutionary biologists have looked at the ultimate mechanisms of art: have we evolved to make art because making art aided in our survival and reproduction? Is a scientific approach to understanding why we make art valuable, or are scientists just trying to make material that which is beyond material explanation?
Enter Gregory F. Tague. He’s not a philosopher. He’s not a scientist. He’s a literature professor who got interested in how the behaviors depicted in works of fiction might reflect our evolved cognitive abilities. His interest in this intersection between art and evolutionary biology has led Professor Tague on a journey that has (thus far) produced three books. His first book on the subject, Making Mind, illuminated how literary explorations of morality can be understood from an evolutionary perspective. Evolution and Human Culture provides a broad overview of how the humanities and evolutionary biology have explained the diverse features of human culture. And in Art & Adaptation, Professor Tague considers how various theories explaining art creation relate to human adaptations… and the possibility that making art itself is adaptive.
I am so excited that Professor Tague will be speaking at Pratt Institute (Brooklyn campus) on Thursday, April 13th, 2017 at 5:30 pm in the ARC Building’s E-2 auditorium. His talk is sponsored by the ArtSci Affair, a “science & art cafe” that is produced by my prolific colleague Ágnes Mócsy. Focused on the ideas at the heart of his Art & Adaptation book, Professor Tague’s talk will explore what works of visual art can tell us about why we make art, how that art might be a product of our adaptations, and how art itself might be a human cultural adaptation. Please come!
You can download the flyer for this event, which is also displayed here: