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Musings on the Creative Impulse

Yesterday a friend and I rode our bikes up to the top of Vail Pass, and when we got back down we stopped in Breckenridge for lunch.  After lunch we decided to walk around Breckenridge for a while, and we soon found ourselves in a wonderful little art gallery on Main Street.  One large bronze in particular caught my attention.  It was a comic piece of a bear standing beside a tree looking at a squirrel on a branch even with the bear’s face.  The squirrel was holding out an acorn as if he were offering it to the bear in exchange for not eating him.   I loved it.  As I looked at the piece the word “whimsy” came to mind.  I inquired about the price and learned it could be mine for only $32,000.  That’s a wee bit [read, "a lot"] out of my price range, so I decided to let them keep their bear and squirrel.

What has this got to do with the topics discussed on this blog?  Just this.  As we left the art gallery my friend and I were discussing the impulse to create art.  Think about it.  One can’t eat art or wear it or put it over one’s head to keep the rain out.  It has no practical use.  As far as I can see it gives no survival advantage.  So why is the impulse to create art universal?  To the theist (especially those operating in the Judeo-Christian tradition), the answer to this question is easy.  We are created imago dei, in the image of God, and our creative impulse is a faint echo of God’s.

 But on what possible grounds can the materialist explain the artistic (or more broadly, the “creative”) impulse?  I puzzled and puzzled about this and drew a blank.  Since art has no practical value and does not confer a selection advantage, how does the Darwinist explain the fact that every normal person has at least some urge to create?  Does the Darwinist have an explanation for this that does not sound like a post hoc “just so story?”  I would be interested to know what our materialist friends who visit this blog have to say.

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48 Responses to Musings on the Creative Impulse

  1. As a life-long creative professional I can attest to the fact that artistic abilities confer no survival advantage on an individual whatsoever. Just ask my wife.

    In a hardcore materialist universe I think the ‘business/serial killer gene’ would do nicely, followed closely by the full spectrum of widely inherited, albeit inappropriate, kissing traits associated with climbing the corporate ladder fast on the tail of one’s immediate superior.

    Explaining the rise of human creativity in general, and the arts in particular, will present a formidable challenge to anyone hawking the ‘life = dirt + water’ view of the universe.

  2. Oh, we can fit a “just-so” story in here.

    Those who see the beauty in life are more willing to fight to stay alive, thus making it advantageous to be artistic. They have a higher form of appreciation.

    LOL.

  3. I would be interested to know what our materialist friends who visit this blog have to say.

    Since Richard Dawkins doesn’t post to this website, I’ll glady speak on his behalf :-)

    There is an ongoing debate between Dawkins and Dennett whether such impulses are:

    1. Selected by natural selection

    2. An undesirable by product of natural seleciton (like Sickle Cell Anemia)

    Dennett adopts viewpoint #1, and Dawkins viewpoint #2. To Richard Dawkins, these sorts of things are like the instinct moths have to fly into a flame.

    The bad instinct is there, but natural selection hasn’t weeded it out because that feature (the instinct to fly into flame) is expressed in other activities which make it selectively advantageous.

    Dennett argues that such impulses confers direct benefit, and Dawkins argues it confers indirect benefit.

    And speaking of Artistic impulse, Dawkins (Mr. Truth and Facts only), while watching a fictional tale on TV, fell in love with the actress of that fictional tale and married her, Lala Ward, the Dr. Who Babe.

    Even Dawkins had to cave in to an artistic impulse that had no utility, like a moth flying into flames. The double standard he applies to himself is quite charming. Yet everything about his own life suggests he craves for beautiful things that can’t be explained in the world of Darwin.

  4. bork, building on the fact that y-guy attracted a mate, try this one on: Artists are perceptive, gentle and kind and they appreciate beauty. Chicks dig that; therefore artists have an advantage in attracting mates and passing on their genes to the next generation.

  5. Sal, what selective advantage does Dennett say the creative impulse confers?

  6. “But on what possible grounds can the materialist explain the artistic (or more broadly, the “creative”) impulse? ”

    I don’t think the attraction to materialism has anything to do with actually explaining the “big” questions. Its explanatory power seems to be the imaginations of the ones making up all these “just-so” stories. As we have seen, reality is quickly done away with when it conflicts with materialism (um…m-theory anyone?) But materialism is a nice way of living day to day without that troublesome “God” thing bothering your thoughts.

  7. shaner74, problem is, the “God” thing does not really go away even in the most ardent materialist: Here’s Saint Charles himself:

    “For myself, also, I rejoice profoundly; for, thinking of so many cases of men pursuing an illusion for years, often and often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted my life to a phantasy.” Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, November 23, 1859

  8. Sal, what selective advantage does Dennett say the creative impulse confers?

    None, he merely gives the standard circularly reasoned evolutionary line:

    1. the trait is abundant

    2. if the trait is abundant, therefore natural selection evolved it

    To be fair, I was paraphrasing Dennett very loosely as Dennett wrote a book Breaking the Spell where Dennett cites evidence that natural selection selects for religious impulse. It’s not hard to see this applies by way of extension to creative impulses.

    David Sloan Wilson articulates the case for religious impulses even better in his criticism of Dawkins Review of Dawkins by Sloan. [again these studies could be extrapolated to creative impulses]

    Not that I agree with Dennett or Wilson one iota, but they did a good job of trashing Dawkins at his own game.

    I’m sure if one ponders the various Darwinist positions carefully one will see how each Darwinist finds fatal flaws in another Darwinist’s position. I just haven’t bothered investing my time in trying to find these fatal contradictions as the speculations are so off base I didn’t want to waste time on them.

    David Sloan Wilson however did have devastating evidence against the supposed harm religion inflicts on society. His empirical research overturned Dawkins pretty convincingly.

    Yes the materialist positions are lame, but I haven’t quite come to the point that I have a nice tidy argument to push their suppositions beyond the realm of reasonable doubt.

    I don’t believe them one iota, but it would be nice to really put the stake in the heart of their claims, preferably demonstrating their ideas are self-defeating. But some days, I think it’s just not worth the bother. It’s like beating a dead horse.

  9. Sal writes “Dennett cites evidence that natural selection selects for religious impulse. It’s not hard to see this applies by way of extension to creative impulses.”
    I’m not sure I agree. The Darwinist frequently give supposed advantages conferred by the religious impulse (creation of community; support for altruism, etc.). Art is different I think. The point of my post is that from a materialist perspective art seems to be utterly frivolous and without value. My taunting above to the contrary notwithstanding, I am truly interested in hearing from our materialist friends on why this is not the case.

  10. I’m not sure I agree. The Darwinist frequently give supposed advantages conferred by the religious impulse (creation of community; support for altruism, etc.). Art is different I think

    You are correct, my extrapolation has its problems.

    I am truly interested in hearing from our materialist friends on why this is not the case.

    I was merely trying to help get the materialists started on posting their thoughts. I hope they speak their mind. As I welcome what they have to say on the matter.

    Although, like you, I suspect we won’t hear much.

  11. Minor correction: Dawkins and Ward met at a birthday party for Douglas Adams.

  12. It’s a good question, BarryA. I’m not a materialist, but here’s the answer I’ve seen given by a pair of archaeologists in their book, The Mind in the Cave . They considered, like Steve Mithen, one of the archaeologists at the University of Reading in Britain, that human creativity came about when all the separate sections of the human brain which deal with different processes, like perception, tool making and so on, became integrated. For the authors of The Mind in the Cave , this process was linked with the development of shamanic art in the Old Stone Age. They consider that humanity is unique in that humans remember their dreams, and palaeolithic art was produced by shamans during hallucinatory states of consciousness. Thus the rise of human symbolic culture, art, and religion were linked. For these archaeologists, Neanderthals, unlike modern humans, were naturally atheists due to their biological lack of imagination.

    Clearly there are problems with this analysis, as Neanderthal remains have been found in Syria which suggest that they were burying their dead with some reverence and expectation of something like an afterlife, and Neanderthal jewellery has also been found, though this was supposedly copied by the Neanderthals from Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

    Even if this neurological account were true – and this can be contested because of the authors explicit assumption that brain = mind, it does not explain how the potential for art was selected for in the first place.

    Moreover, Professor Anthony O’Hear of Bradford University in Britain has argued in his book Beyond Evolution: Human Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation that the idea of beauty is itself irreducible to explanations based on evolutionary psychology.

    As for artistic types being supposedly more attractive to women, that’s possible at the level of raw material productivity. The remains of far more flint arrowheads and tools have been found at some sites than the hunters who made them would ever have needed, and the suggestion has been made that this indicates that the activity was partly done to advertise to women than the hunter was a virile, skilled workman who could provide for them.

    With respect to the artists out there, I’m not sure creative people are any better or gentler than other folk. You consider Caravaggio – he spent part of his career on the run for murder!

    Brilliant artist, though.

  13. On a urge to create,

    Why oh Why

    Lord, Why oh Why is it a tear I cry,
    While beholding awesome wonders filling the sky?

    Is it as the Godless naysayers say..
    An evolutionary reaction to the bright light of day?

    Is it of no meaning as the blind sages insist..
    Only a quirk of fate that may make my survival best fit?

    Oh but NO! Their fairy tales I shan’t believe,
    For only of timeless beauty does this tear dare be!

    Yes! And I will bless this tear from your deep well of love,
    Spring forth when I glimpse your wonders above.
    For this tear is most genuine indeed, No meaningless quirk is in this tears creed!
    For ‘Tis a tear crying for the beauty that I see,
    Tis a tear crying for the glory that shall be!
    Tis a tear crying for the lost sages soul,
    Tis a tear crying for we are not yet made whole,
    Tis a tear crying for the sorrow we endure,
    Tis a tear crying for the coming joy that is sure,
    Tis a tear crying for these and many more than I can say,
    For, “Tis a tear crying for the untold beauty of your perfect day!

  14. I, for one, am willing to give y-guy the benefit of the doubt. Unless I see evidence to the contrary, I will assume his wife selected him for his evident virility and ability to provide for her ;-)
    “human creativity came about when all the separate sections of the human brain which deal with different processes, like perception, tool making and so on, became integrated”
    I have seen cooption used to try to explain physical properties such as the bacterial flagellum, but this is the first time I’ve seen it used in an attempt to explain a non-material phenomenon. As those guys in the Guinness beer commercial say, “Brilliant!”

  15. Now those solid factual dates for our evolution from East Africa have been pushed back by a mere 100%, perhaps we could speculate that our ancestors had a lot of extra time to waste, thus developed artistic abilities.

    All those millions of generations whose fossils have strangely not been found must have done something in their spare time.

  16. Creativity and amusement are not unique to humans, so the problem Barry A alludes to applies to other living creatures as well.

    Though I certainly believe humans are unique, I won’t be so quick to say that animals do not reflect humanity. And even a Lamb might tell us something of the Intelligent Designer. So let us not be too hasty to think lowly of animals. The Intelligent Designer might wish to reveal something of his personhood in other living creatures.

    Here is an slight expression of play (which is related to art):

    The spectacle of animals at play is a puzzling one from the point of view of natural selection. Imagine two young cheetahs frolicking about in the grass of the savannah, not far from a herd of Thomson’s gazelles. They’re running, tumbling, feinting, frowling–expressing a joy of movement that is totally infectious. But they are taking enormous risks. Lions are constantly on the lookout for young cheetahs, which they ruthlessly destroy. And these two have just scattered the gazelles, one of whom their mother was carefully stalking, anticipating a meal that she badly needed because of the demands of feeding her two rapidly growing dependents. What is the point of this play that apparently reduces the cheetah’s chances of survival? They would do much better to carefully copy their mother in stalking, chasing, and catching prey, directing their energies and activities to something useful that increases their chances of survival, which for cheetahs is none too good to being with. But we see this type of behavior throughout the higher animal kingdom. A troop of monkeys is a familiar example. The amount of energy used by the young in chasing, climbing, leaping, frolicking, and general high jinks is so infectious that you want to join them….

    It is in play that we see the richest, most varied, and unpredictable set of motions of wich an animal is capable. Compared with most goal-directed behavior, which tends to have strong elements of repetition that give it a somewhat stereotyped, even mechanical, quality, play is extraordinarly fluid.

    Brian Goodwin

    And I really hope the significance of this gem is not forgotten:
    Legitimizing a Thoughtful Form of Anthropomorphism

    humans as microcosms reflecting in miniature the truth of the macrocosm.

  17. We are created imago dei, in the image of God, and our creative impulse is a faint echo of God’s.

    The materialist answer is simple enough – humans created the image of God. Are there any descriptions of God that weren’t recorded by humans?

    Dyed in the wool materialists may be blind to design but they still have a valid point about revealed religion.

    The point of my post is that from a materialist perspective art seems to be utterly frivolous and without value.

    Perhaps it’s something like the tail feathers on a peacock. Females of many species seem to be attracted to gaudy pointless displays made by males.

  18. Art has pupose: Communication. No different than writing.

  19. Art has purpose as well as pupose

  20. DaveScott, as I said in comment 9, I acknowledge that materialists have tried to account for religion in their paradigm. That’s not the topic of this post. The topic is, how do they account for the artistic impulse. Maybe you’re right. Hey y-guy, for the sake of science please ask your wife if she was attracted to you because of your gaudy displays of creativity ;-)

  21. bill Me, do you discount the sublime competely? Isn’t good art also trying to create beauty in a way that writing never can. Maybe art is analagous to writing in some ways, but surely you’ll concede they are not the same thing.

  22. Art and writing are said to be equivalent at the rate of 1000 words per picture.

  23. Sexual selection is a week argument not only for the existance of music and art but also for the very concept of appreciation of beauty beyond sexual attraction. How does sexual selection explain why find sunsets beautiful? Why do some people find and elegant mathmatical equation beautiful? Why is music beautiful?

    the weight of the evidence clearly supports the existance of the soul and spirit. To pretend like sexual selection can account for these aspects of human nature is to be in denial.

  24. Talking about survival value, think giving up tree-climbing and the ability to run on four legs. It is suicidal for the Homo species to give up both.

  25. There are certainly problems with the idea of art as a glamorous profession which attracts mates. It certainly is in our modern society, which gives high respect to artists, but this wasn’t the case throughout most of history. Before the Renaissance, although great art was admired, artists themselves were considered the same as other craftsmen, no more glamorous or worthy of admiration than the guys who built your house or your cart, or who made your clothes or shoes. One of the great Roman writers remarked that of the sculptors Praxiteles that his work was brilliant, ‘but who would want to be Praxiteles?’

    Having said that, for all I know Praxiteles may well have been besieged by admiring ladies desperate to have his kids, which threw the aristocratic author of the above comments into a huff about how he should know his place. But this is speculation.

    As for the co-option of different parts of the brain to produce human creativity, there’s a family likeness there to Dr. Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind , the piece that set off all the New Age thinking about ‘right brain’ vs. ‘left brain’. Dennett seems to have been impressed with Jaynes. The collection of his essays in Mind Children includes a defence of Jaynes’ thesis.

    As for ‘primitive’ peoples not having enough time to produce art, that was the attitude of the Victorians, until anthropologists actually took the time to study hunter-gatherer communities. Then they discovered that despite the demands of time on them, they still had enough time to create art.

    As for all art being communication, I don’t think this is so, except perhaps in the broadest possible sense. Many cultures don’t have representational art at all, and their art is abstract and geometric.

    To make the subject complicated still, a lot of cultures also don’t have any conception of pure art. Much of sub-Saharan art is decorative, and so utilitarian objects like weapons have been analysed and displayed by some Western anthropologists and museum curators as art objects in themselves.

    From a certain perspective, art merges into design. One of the interesting things I’ve heard about the design of human artifacts is that they’re generally not simply functional, and don’t obey Darwinian principles of progress towards efficient utilitarianism.

    One of the most fascinating remarks on this subject I’ve heard came from a retired engineer who was working on the anthropology of traditional boat designs from all over the world. He observed that no-one really knows why particular boat designs have developed – they can be as efficient as each other, and the explanations for why one design was adopted in one region rather than another that was adopted elsewhere contradict each other. He stated that before CADCAM it was actually very difficult to design something like a boat because of the way the change in one feature had a knock-on effect on all the others. In a boat, this could put lives at risk.

    One consequence of this is that people continued to use the same traditional designs, even when new materials were introduced that could offer opportunities for new designs or were difficult to shape into traditional forms.

  26. Hi there. I’m not a materialist, though I’ve thought about this a lot and sort of had this nagging thought in the back of my mind about it. Perhaps my hypothesis is true, but I hope someone here can prove it wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial_symmetry

    I recently read this and thought it was fairly interesting. However, after reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder if it affects other things. For example, if you hang a large painting on a wall, and a smaller painting below it, you’d usually put it directly in the middle, equally distanced from both sides of the larger painting. For symmetry. If you don’t, it doesn’t feel “right,” it just feels weird or off. Following what was discussed in that article, is it possible that mating instincts are coming into play here? If you think about it, you can see examples all around us. In architecture, art, and even music. We implement symmetry for aesthetic value everywhere. Could this be the reason? If it is not, we definitely have parts of our vision that look for symmetry (this has been proven) so it begs an explanation.

  27. Barry,
    Just to say I made reference to your
    entry here on my own blog today here:

    http://wwwjustifiedsinner.blogspot.com/

    Regards,

    Howard.

  28. Everyone seems to have ignored the peacock as evidence of art and sexual selection. I don’t wonder why. There’s no other rational explanation. Any display, be it human artistry or a big colorful tail on a bird, that attracts attention in a good way is advantageous in sexual selection. It sets the displayer apart from the herd.

    Undoubtedly communication is also a prime motivator. Art is a way to bring a privately held vision out of the mind and into the world so others can see the vision that the artist holds in his mind. That’s inarguably a mode of communication.

  29. DaveScott, the idea that Michelangelo spent four years laying on his back painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel just so he could show off and get some action is, to say the least, unsatisfying. That does not mean it is not true. If it is true, like pretty much everything about materialism, it is bleak, very bleak. To this comment the materialist would undoubtedly say, “Yes, the universe is a very bleak place, indifferent to us when it is not downright hostile, and you Christians make up your stories so you don’t have to face that fact.”

  30. “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!” –Charles Darwin, in a letter to botanist Asa Gray, April 3, 1860

    I don’t think the feathers of a peacock have anything to say about human appreciation and concept of aesthetics and beauty in music and in other art. And it does not explain at all why humans find nature beautiful. What reproductive benefit is there in the admiration of trees, stars, oceans, and sunsets?

  31. Money is also a reason to create art. Ask Michelangelo; he was paid.

    Art is spirit just like all information. Art is not the paint or metal or carbon or sound wave that makes the pattern used to transfer information.

    Art is always communication. Sometimes it tells us how sick an artist is and sometimes it tells us something more important. Art always says something.

    Memory is the essence of art, time, thought . . .without memory none of these things exist.

  32. For example, if you hang a large painting on a wall, and a smaller painting below it, you’d usually put it directly in the middle, equally distanced from both sides of the larger painting. For symmetry. If you don’t, it doesn’t feel “right,” it just feels weird or off. Following what was discussed in that article, is it possible that mating instincts are coming into play here? If you think about it, you can see examples all around us. In architecture, art, and even music. We implement symmetry for aesthetic value everywhere. Could this be the reason? If it is not, we definitely have parts of our vision that look for symmetry (this has been proven) so it begs an explanation.

    No, it is not true. Because symmetry is not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing. In some things it may be, but not in art. Paintings are typically asymmetrical in the subject matter they depict. Likewise with architecture. Design may be porportional but not symmetric. Symmetrical things often look boring and weird.

  33. More interesting than symmetry for aesthetics is the Golden Ratio.

  34. “Everyone seems to have ignored the peacock as evidence of art and sexual selection…”

    The difference is that peacocks don’t create their own tail feathers. Another is that Barry was attracted to the sculpture in the original post, a sculpture that had nothing to do with selecting a mate. Third: yes, this is anecdotal, but my kids, especially when they were young enough that they didn’t even know what sex was, were almost driven to create all kinds of “art” in every available medium. Sexual selection doesn’t explain any of this.

    But the interesting corollary is not just that we make and enjoy such things, but that no other animal does. Sure, dew on a spider’s web is beautiful, and the nest of a weaverbird is impressive. But such animal-made structures have a specific pragmatic function (food, shelter…). Barry’s sculpture had none–at least none that was as obvious as these other examples. Why are we so radically different from other members of the animal kingdom when gradualism predicts that we should see many other higher-order types of animals with similar characteristics?

    Barry’s conclusion seems eminently reasonable: “We are created imago dei, in the image of God, and our creative impulse is a faint echo of God’s.”

  35. What reproductive benefit is there in the admiration of trees, stars, oceans, and sunsets?

    A soothing effect. Stress reduction. Stress kills. There’s at least one reproductive benefit. You can’t reproduce if you’re dead from a stress induced heart attack or stroke.

    What reproductive benefit is there in tatoos and piercings? Or in Owen Wilson attempting suicide by slashing his wrists and swallowing a toxic number of pills? Is that also explained by imago dei? Is God pierced, inked, and suicidal? It seems to me there’s some cherry picking going on here in which human activities are reflective of God and which are reflective of something else.

    A peacock is driven by biological imperative to produce those tail feathers. If the peacock could use his will to create the most attractive plumage he probably would. All I’m saying is that the expression of art may also be driven by biological imperative but humans have more control over the expression than peacocks do. Barry wondered where the drive for artistic expression comes from. He speculated that it’s because God is creative by nature and we reflect that creativity. That explanation seems to be made up out of thin air. Specifics about the nature of God are invariably made by human authors. I suspect that characterizations of God are just another product of human creativity – a work of art.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s painfully obvious the universe was created but who did the creating, when, and why is in the realm of imagination.

    “We are created imago dei, in the image of God, and our creative impulse is a faint echo of God’s.”

    That’s circular. We create an image of God then find those attributes in ourselves. Rather than we are a faint echo of God a more reasonable explanation to me is that God is an amplified image of ourselves with numerous authors of numerous religions each choosing (cherry picking) a different set of attributes to amplify into a graven image to worship.

  36. A soothing effect. Stress reduction. Stress kills. There’s at least one reproductive benefit. You can’t reproduce if you’re dead from a stress induced heart attack or stroke.

    The thing about “just so” stories is that they are only limited by the imagination. However, I don’t think this one is very good. First, I doubt anybody dies of stress before they are old enough to reproduce. Second, it seems that if stress is a limiting factor on reproductve success that appreciation of sunsets is a pretty weak way to evolve around it. Why not just turn off the mechanism that allows to experience stress? Exactly what DNA sequences in the human brain code for love of beauty in nature anyway?

    What reproductive benefit is there in tatoos and piercings? Or in Owen Wilson attempting suicide by slashing his wrists and swallowing a toxic number of pills? Is that also explained by imago dei? Is God pierced, inked, and suicidal? It seems to me there’s some cherry picking going on here in which human activities are reflective of God and which are reflective of something else.

    Some negative behaviors are evidence of the soul and a need for God. None of my Christian friends are suicidal. What reproductive advantage does depression serve? Yet all humans are susceptible to it and relationship with God is the cure. I personally don’t believe real joy is even possible apart from a relationship with God. Maybe that is just me.

  37. None of my Christian friends are suicidal.

    Lucky you. I hope your luck continues. I haven’t been so fortunate.

  38. My odds are cetainely good.

  39. BarryA,

    well, you see, Barry, apes use rudimentary tools and they like to throw feces at their enemies. It’s only logical that the next step in evolution would grant the species the ability to understand and create language, abstract thought, music, art, literature, pyramids, temples, skyscrapers, jet airplanes, and space vehicles. I mean, come on. Isn’t it obvious?

    Stop being such a skeptic.

  40. DaveScott writes: “‘We are created imago dei, in the image of God, and our creative impulse is a faint echo of God’s.’ That’s circular.”

    Of course it is not circular for the simple reason that it is not an argument. It is a truth claim. The truth claim may be true or false, but not circular.

  41. Jehu, as we have discussed on this blog before, just because your religious beliefs have utility does not mean they are true (it does not mean they are untrue either). The statistics you cite are another good reason (among many) to take a long hard look at which side of Pascal’s Wager one has taken.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

  42. 42

    I personally have often wondered at the pleasure I experience from various stimuli; flowers, rainbows, music, etc. There’s something pulling me into it there – something that I want more of. As an artist, (however unskilled), my desire is that others should experience that same longing. Beauty is truth.

  43. BarryA,

    Jehu, as we have discussed on this blog before, just because your religious beliefs have utility does not mean they are true (it does not mean they are untrue either).

    I agree that utility is not proof but it stands to reason that a belief that has utility is more likely to be consistent with truth than a belief that has no utiltity (athiesm).

  44. Music is a whole ‘nuther topic. Why is it that a certain combination of sounds is pleasing and we can all agree to call it music and another combination we can all agree is noise? What makes music music and not noise? Is music a “real” thing? If so, what is the nature of that reality?

  45. Why is it that a certain combination of sounds is pleasing…

    The release of endorphines. IOW that combination releases endorphines in the one it pleases.

    and another combination we can all agree is noise?

    The pain transmitter is released- the “shutitofforphine”. :)

    What makes music music and not noise?

    Age of the listner. :)

    OK OK too much of the hobbit leaf…

  46. “Symmetrical things often look boring and weird.”

    I just find it odd that humanity takes symmetric symbols to have meaning when I can’t think of another reason for it. The Christian Cross, the Star of David, etc. etc. are all symmetric. Why do we find meaning in symmetry?

    As for the person who brought up music, I found this on Wikipedia, but I’m not sure I understand it. Music requires rhythm, so:

    “In his series How Music Works, Howard Goodall presents theories that rhythm recalls how we walk and the heartbeat we heard in the womb. However neither would seem to have any survival value in Man’s evolution. More likely is that a simple pulse or di-dah beat recalls the footsteps of another person. Our sympathetic urge to dance is designed to boost our energy levels in order to cope with someone (or some animal) chasing us — a fight or flight response. It is possibly also rooted in courtship ritual.”

  47. BarryA, “Is music a “real” thing?

    Is ANY subjective experience a real thing? I think so.

    BarryA, “If so, what is the nature of that reality?”"

    It’s all in consciousness, baby. But nobody knows what that is. The ultimate black box.

  48. Our capacity to love beautiful music is rooted in our capacity to love the source of music, which is God. God created both the musical laws,which exist in the objective order and the capacity to appreciate them, which resides in us.

    Some forms of music, the highest form, elavate our soul, other forms satisfy our intellect, and still other forms stimulate our glands. I know of very few materialists who truly love the higher forms. Why should they love objective beauty when they reject the whole objective order.

    To love truly beautiful music is to come very close to worshipping God. To latch on to heavy drums and loud, amplified music is to celebrate the animal in self. I suspect that art forms other than music manifest similar patterns related to similar hieracrhies.

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