Is aesthetics a product of evolution? Are human aesthetic behaviors in fact evolutionary adaptations? The creation of artistic objects and experiences is an important aesthetic behavior. But so is the perception of aesthetic phenomena qua aesthetic. The question of evolutionary aesthetics is whether humans have evolved the capacity not only to make beautiful things but also to appreciate the aesthetic qualities in things. Are our near-universal love of music and cute baby animals essential to our species’ evolutionary development, which took place over thousands of years? In other words, do aesthetic practice and appreciation help people to survive or reproduce? Do aesthetic behaviors help to propel natural selection? If so, what does that tell us about ourselves as human beings? What does it tell us about art, our other aesthetic practices, and aesthetic experience?
Mandy-Suzanne Wong, “Editorial: Evolution and Aesthetics,” Evental Aesthetics 4, no. 2 (2015): 4-21.