Author(s): David Rothenberg
'The peacock's tail makes me sick!' said Charles Darwin. That's because the theory of evolution as adaptation can't explain why nature is so beautiful. It took the concept of sexual selection for Darwin to explain that, a process that has more to do with aesthetic taste than adaptive fitness. Survival of the Beautiful is a revolutionary new examination of the interplay of beauty, art, and culture in evolution. Taking inspiration from Darwin's observation that animals have a natural aesthetic sense, philosopher and musician David Rothenberg probes why animals, humans included, have an innate appreciation for beauty - and why nature is, indeed, beautiful.
A brilliant investigation of why nature is beautiful and how art has influenced science, sure to stimulate readers of The Art Instinct.
Rothenberg's passionate optimism - a belief in the beauty of nature, and vice versa - together with his elegant prose turns Survival of the Beautiful into an exhilarating and thought provoking trip Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph A compelling, lucidly written investigation into how beauty can evolve, when nobody is, as he puts it, in charge. Prospect Rothenberg writes passionately and engagingly ... this is the triumphant lesson of Survival of the Beautiful: nature is not entirely red in tooth and claw, it also allows the beautiful rite of passage Peter Forbes, Guardian A cornucopia of cognitive delights, exploring everything that's a treat for the eyes, from the colours of dinosaurs to whether it's a good idea to teach elephants to paint Irish Times
David Rothenberg is Professor of Philosophy and Music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the author of books including Thousand Mile Song and Why Birds Sing. His articles have appeared in Parabola, The Nation, Wired, Dwell, and Sierra.