chapter  18
Darwinian Aesthetics: Randy Thornhill
Pages 30

This chapter treats the topics that have been of long interest to aestheticians. Traditional aesthetics (i.e., aesthetics in philosophy) is broad and diverse, including such topics as the beauty of ideas, body form, natural landscapes, and so on. Some readers of this chapter suggested that I provide a succinct definition of aesthetics. It is not possible, however, to provide an objective definition based on Darwinian theory. As D. Symons (personal communication, in April1995) concisely put it:

The whole notion of "aesthetics," as a "natural" domain, i.e., as a domain that carves nature at a joint, is misguided .... All adaptations are aesthetic adaptations, because all adaptations interact in some way with the environment, external or internal, and prefer certain states to others. An adaptation that instantiates the rule, "prefer productive habitats" is no more or less aesthetic than an adaptation that instantiates the rule, "prefer a particular blood pressure."