The Aesthetic Animal

ISBN : 9780190927929

Henrik Hogh-Olesen
192 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2018
Send mail

The Aesthetic Animal answers the ultimate questions of why we adorn ourselves, embellish our things and surroundings, and produce art, music, song dance, and fiction. Humans are aesthetic animals that spend vast amounts of time and resources on seemingly useless aesthetic activities. However, nature would not allow a species to waste precious time and effort on activities completely unrelated to survival, reproduction, and the well-being of that species. Consequently, the aesthetic impulse must have some important biological functions. A number of observations indicate that the aesthetic impulse is an inherent part of human nature, and therefore a primary impulse in its own right with several important functions: The aesthetic impulse may guide us toward what is biologically good for us, and help us choose the right fitness enhancing items in our surroundings. It is a valid individual fitness indicator as well as a unifying social group marker, and aesthetically skilled individuals get more mating possibilities, higher status and more collaborative offers. The book is written in a lively and entertaining tone, with beautiful color illustrations. It covers a wide field of aesthetic behaviors from cave art, graffiti, tattoos, and piercings over fashion, design, music, song, and dance. It presents an original and comprehensive synthesis of the empirical field, synthesizing data from archeology, cave art, anthropology, biology, ethology, behavioral- and evolutionary psychology and neuro-aesthetics. It is a must-read for people interested in biology, psychology, anthropology, architecture, design, fashion, body culture, art, and the evolution of aesthetics.


Introduction: The Aesthetic Impulse
Chapter 1: An Animal in Search of Stimulation, for Pleasure and Need - Two Stories on the Forces that Drive Us Towards Art and Aesthetics
Chapter 2: The First Humans and the First Art
Chapter 3: What a Sexy Tale! Key Stimuli and Attraction - Aesthetics in the Animal Kingdom
Chapter 4: The Woman in Red and the Man with the Chrome-Plated Wheels - Aesthetics and Key Stimuli in the Human World
Chapter 5: The Human Peacock - Body Ornamentation and Artistic Behaviour from Tribal Society to Modern Primitives
Chapter 6: Who Lives Here? Decoration, Design, and Ornamentation on Objects and Surroundings
Chapter 7: Art and the Brain's Reward System - Brain Processes and Neuroaesthetics
Chapter 8: Fiction and Narrative - the Function of Symbolic Aesthetics
Chapter 9: Summing Up the Aesthetic Impulse - Adaptation, Cheesecake, or...?
Chapter 10: Opening the Doors of Aesthetics - Concluding Remarks

About the author: 

Henrik Hogh-Olesen is Professor of Social & Personality Psychology at the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, University of Aarhus, Denmark. He has published 13 academic books and more than 100 articles, published works of fiction and drama, is an expert on behavioral & evolutionary psychology, and has studied humans, apes, and monkeys in naturalistic and experimental settings.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.