Play, Skill, and the Origins of Perceptual Art

British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (2):173-197 (2015)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Art is universal across cultures. Yet, it is biologically expensive because of the energy expended and reduced vigilance. Why do humans make and contemplate it? This paper advances a thesis about the psychological origins of perceptual art. First, it delineates the aspects of art that need explaining: not just why it is attractive, but why fine execution and form—which have to do with how the attraction is achieved—matter over and above attractiveness. Second, it states certain constraints: we need to explain pleasure in contemplation, not value extracted from the object by activities other than contemplation. The theory is that aesthetic pleasure is a motivation for learning skills. Two forms of pleasure are postulated. The first accompanies the spontaneous activity necessary for learning a more or less universal basic level of skill. The second accompanies highly skilled activity. This second kind of pleasure is specific to art as such.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
First archival date: 2013-11-22
Latest version: 2 (2014-05-01)
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
518 ( #12,275 of 64,195 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
24 ( #28,536 of 64,195 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.