“I will venture to conclude, however, that what the arts were for – an embodiment and reinforcement of socially shared significances – is what we crave and are perishing for today.”

— Ellen Dissanayake, writer


Author of Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why and What is Art For?

Every human society displays some form of behavior that can be called “art,” and in most societies other than our own the arts play an integral part in social life. Those who wish to understand art in its broadest sense, as a universal human endowment, need to go beyond modern Western elitist notions that disregard other cultures and ignore the human species’ four-million-year evolutionary history.

This book offers a new and unprecedentedly comprehensive theory of the evolutionary significance of art. Art, meaning not only visual art, but music, poetic language, dance, and performance, is for the first time regarded from a biobehavioral or ethical viewpoint. It is shown to be a biological necessity in human existence and fundamental characteristic of the human species. continued