On The Origin Of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, And Fiction

Brian Boyd
ISBN:
0674033574

A century and a half after the publication of Origin of Species, evolutionary thinking has expanded beyond the field of biology to include virtually all human-related subjects anthropology, archeology, psychology, economics, religion, morality, politics, culture, and art. Now a distinguished scholar offers the first comprehensive account of the evolutionary origins of art and storytelling. Brian Boyd explains why we tell stories, how our minds are shaped to understand them, and what difference an evolutionary understanding of human nature makes to stories we love. Art is a specifically human adaptation, Boyd argues. It offers tangible advantages for human survival, and it derives from play, itself an adaptation widespread among more intelligent animals. More particularly, our fondness for storytelling has sharpened social cognition, encouraged cooperation, and fostered creativity.After considering art as adaptation, Boyd examines HomerÄôs Odyssey and Dr. SeussÄôs Horton Hears a Who! demonstrating how an evolutionary lens can offer new understanding and appreciation of specific works. What triggers our emotional engagement with these works? What patterns facilitate our responses? The need to hold an audienceÄôs attention, Boyd underscores, is the fundamental problem facing all storytellers. Enduring artists arrive at solutions that appeal to cognitive universals: an insight out of step with contemporary criticism, which obscures both the individual and universal. Published for the bicentenary of DarwinÄôs birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species, BoydÄôs study embraces a Darwinian view of human nature and art, and offers a credo for a new humanism.

Tag cloud generated by Coginov API
Concepts extracted by AlchemyAPI AlchemyAPI