Saturday, February 10, 2018

Art and Adaptability



I am pleased to announce the publication of Art and Adaptability: Consciousness and Cognitive Culture (Brill 2018). The book argues for a co-evolution of theory of mind and material/art culture and covers relevant areas from great ape intelligence, hominin evolution, Stone Age tools, Paleolithic culture and art forms, to neurobiology. 

Please ask your librarian to order a copy of the book, ISBN 978-9004354524. Hardcover, 216 pages, with five color illustrations. More information can be found here. The publisher's page is here.



And a testimonial:

“Gregory F. Tague approaches two ancient questions, what is art and what does it do, in a new and intriguing way. Drawing on science, specifically evolution through natural selection, he proposes that art, like other forms of social behavior, is in part genetic, creative or imaginative impulse, and part environmental, social interaction. Support for this proposal comes from primate studies and current studies in neurobiology, cognition, intelligence and communication. He proposes, and I agree, that culture is common among great apes with whom we share social and mental abilities. Modern humans, however, unlike other primates, have a more highly degreed theory of mind. This ability to make predictions based on the perceived mental states of others facilitated our ancestors’ ability to competitively cooperate. Culture, which would include art, was, as he explains, “part of a predictive attempt to affect another’s emotional or cognitive outcome, often in subtle ways.” As influence is a critical part of social behavior, art, which has costs that can be quite high, provides social benefits. In sum, the road Tague takes to answering the questions – what is art and what does it do, how might it be connected to health, pleasure, play, sociality, and emotions – is complex; however, art is not a simple thing to explain. While he draws on many variables to build and support his argument, he provides the reader with a provocative and enlightening journey. Art and Adaptability is an excellent book – a fabulous search through many fields for an explanation of the curious behavior we call art.” 

– Kathryn Coe, Ph.D., Professor and Lilly Scholar in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University. Author, The Ancestress Hypothesis: Visual Art as Adaptation

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