2008 EPS Papers (Coppenger)

November 19, 2008
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Mark Coppenger

The Aesthetic Argument and Darwinism

Abstract: Darwinism fails to handle the comprehensive splendor of nature, whether in the desert, jungle, mountain range, prairie, ocean, or starry heavens above. All the natural world is attuned to man’s aesthetic sensibilities, and his attunement cannot be accounted for by natural selection or by habituation to one’s environment. This fit cannot be the result of evolutionary development, since aesthetic distress is not a killer. It is not as though those who found glaciers and waterfalls ugly died of disgust or lack of consort. On the contrary, one might argue demographically that slum dwelling, with attendant eyesores, is congenial for procreation. And one might argue that the artistic temperament is even less advantageous in the search for mates than is the athletic, military, or commercial temperament. Yet, a species-wide preference for and fascination with cypress swamps, pine forests, sea-casts, brooks, and canyons persists. This means havor for Darwinism.