Repost-Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’

Full post here.

Darwin and the arts.  Kirsch has an interesting piece reviewing 3 books, including one by Denis Dutton.  What might neuroaesthetics have to say about art that hasn’t been said already?

‘This sensible reticence served both art and science well enough for more than a century after Darwin’s death. But with the rise of evolutionary psychology, it was only a matter of time before the attempt was made to explain art in Darwinian terms. After all, if ethics and politics can be explained by game theory and reciprocal altruism, there is no reason why aesthetics should be different: in each case, what appears to be a realm of human autonomy can be reduced to the covert expression of biological imperatives. The first popular effort in this direction was the late Denis Dutton’s much-discussed book The Art Instinct, which appeared in 2009.’

Worth a read.

More broadly, it’s interesting to note how art, aesthetics, morality, moral reasoning, ethics etc. are being attached to Darwin’s thinking.  For some, I suspect, it is to advance a secular humanist platform which is full of oughts and shoulds for all of us in other areas of life, including politics and culture.

Related On This Site:  Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’Denis Dutton R.I.P.-December 28th, 2010 …From Bloggingheads: Denis Dutton On His New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’A Few More Thoughts On Denis Dutton’s New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…Adam Kirsch At The Prospect: ‘America’s Superman’… From The Spiked Review Of Books: “Re-Opening The American Mind”.

Some say we’re just selfish, others disagree-Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’Adam Kirsch In The New Republic On Slavoj Zizek: The Deadly JesterSlavoj Zizek In The New Republic: Responding To Adam Kirsch

5 thoughts on “Repost-Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’

  1. The combination of moralism and moral aestheticism thus results from a secular rejection of traditional religion and its morality (the morally aesthetic aspect) together with an unconscious and unreflective revival and adaptation of the religious impulse, in its most dogmatic and irrational forms (the moralistic aspect), to political purposes. The result is an oxymoronic “secular religion” which duplicates and magnifies all the evils identified in secular critiques of religion itself. The Spanish Inquisition, usually regarded as the most monstrous example ever of religious fanaticism and tyranny, thus pales besides the tortures, brain washing, purges, murders, slave labor, concentration camps, massacres, and genocides perpetrated by Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho, Pol Pot, and all the other secularized and politicized Saints and Saviors of the Twentieth Century. Their own ambitions to perfect human nature and alter history justified to them the use of means that even the Inquisition, certain of the imperfections of Fallen human nature, never would have considered. The irony of Marxism being a “philosophy of intense moral indignation” is that Marx himself didn’t believe it was about morality at all: The unconscious moralism is concealed behind the pseudo-scientific obscurantism of “dialectical” reasoning. A fierce, murderous moralism than cannot even call itself morality is both symbol and substance of the combination of moralism and moral aestheticism.

  2. Humberto,

    You say it better than I could.

    I think Marx scoffed at the idea that his theory was moral, rather than a theory of history, but it still required the subjugation of the arts to the ideology and to political ends.

    Some folks are dragging Christian metaphysics in secularist, absolute idealist garb and promising much more than they can deliver.

  3. Pingback: Words for the Weekend – The best stories we read this week. | SoshiTech - Social Media Technology - Soshitech.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.