A critical analysis of the methodology of evolutionary explanations for the emergence and possible functions of art

Start - End 
2011 - 2015 (completed)
Department of Art, music and theatre sciences



During the last couple of decades, evolutionary theory has expanded its subject matter beyond its traditional topics, such as the origin of life, the study of biodiversity, and the physiological structure of organisms. Traits such as religion, morality, art and language on the other hand, are increasingly studied from an evolutionary point of view, complementary to traditional approaches in the humanities. Art for example, is now researched from different evolutionary angles, such as evolutionary psychology, palaeoarcheology and cognitive science. All of these perspectives are possibly valuable, but their contributions are restricted by their own scientific boundaries. In addition, a number of methodological difficulties occur: how can art be defined as universal, and therefore as a candidate for evolutionary explanation? How are archaeological findings of Palaeolithic art to be interpreted? Do we focus too much on the European record? An awareness of methodological complexities and obscurities allows us to examine more closely how art is researched from an evolutionary perspective, and what this tells us about the evolution of art itself. In addition, a thorough examination benefits evolutionary biology and other related disciplines, by elaborating their methodology as a whole.




Phd Student(s)