Evolutionary psychology

Contra literary Darwinism, animal art is not really art

Spread the love

In “Portrait of the Artist as a Caveman” (discussed here), Micah Mattix tells us things about “chimpanzee art” that I bet you didn’t know either:

Dutton too recognizes that while art may be based on instinct, it is based on a uniquely human instinct. He notes that while our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, do sometimes produce paintings in captivity, this “art” exists “only because trainers remove the paper at the right point; otherwise, the chimp will continue to apply paint till there is nothing to see but a muddy blob.” Moreover, chimpanzees show no interest in their own creations, and still less in the creations of other chimps, suggesting that they lack the sense of aesthetic appreciation of art that is so central in human culture.

You can get cats to do the same thing as chimps, but the beautiful little pussyfeet produce nicer pictures.

But, contrary to prediction, we have found Neanderthal art

See also: Do baboons understand numbers? (“Pure poppycock”)

Can elephants paint? (No, they can be taught a series of gestures in sequence.)

3 Replies to “Contra literary Darwinism, animal art is not really art

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    So if we set up a million chimpanzees with easels and paint, and give them a million or more years, one will eventually paint Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Or the Mona Lisa?

  2. 2
    OldArmy94 says:

    Yes, Barb, but only if you give them infinite number of universes.

  3. 3
    Andre says:

    they just need natural selection, random mutation and some drift… and then viola!

Leave a Reply