很荣幸能在此与各位分享我所着迷的主题,美学,我以艺术哲学与美学维生我试图从学识、哲学及心理学的角度找出美的经验为何?如何明智地加以表述,以及人们如何脱轨似地试图了解美,这是一个极为复杂的主题,部分原因是我们称之为美的东西十分不同,我是说,想想其中的多样性,一张婴儿的脸庞、柏辽兹的《哈罗尔在意大利》、电影《奥兹国精灵》或是契诃夫的剧作、加州中部景观,葛饰北斋看富士山的角度(日本江户时代浮世绘派大师)、歌剧《玫瑰骑士》、精彩的致胜球,发生于世界杯足球赛、梵高的”星夜”、简‧奥斯汀的小说、Fred Astaire 舞过屏幕,这份简短的清单包含人类、自然地形、艺术作品及精巧的人类动作,任何想要解释这份清单上所呈现的美学都非易事,然而,我可以给各位品味一点我视为最够力的美学理论,我们所得到这理论的源由非来自艺术哲学家,亦非来自后现代艺术理论家或是大亨艺评,No,这个理论来自一位专家,专事藤壶、虫及鸽子繁殖,各位明白我指谁,达尔文,当然,许多人认为他们已知道问题的正确答案,何谓美?美是见仁见智的,任何让您个人感动的人事物,或者,对某些人而言,特别是学术圈,倾向于视美是文化条件下的主观意识,人们同意,画作、电影及音乐是美,因为他们的文化决定了统一的美学品味,对自然美与艺术的品味跨越了文化且轻而易举,日本人倾慕贝多芬、秘鲁人喜爱日本的浮世绘、印加雕塑被大英博物馆视为宝物,另外,莎士比亚的剧作已被翻成地球上每一种主要的语言,或像是美国爵士乐、美国电影营销全球,艺术间有许多不同点,但也有普遍性及跨文化的美学愉悦与价值,我们要如何解释这种普遍性?最佳解答来自试图重建一套达尔文式的演化历史,以我们艺术与美学品味的角度,我们必需逆向建立现时艺术品味与偏好,并解释那如何在我们心中烙下深刻的印象,透过我们史前的行为,主要是我们成为全人当时的更新世环境,还有我们演化当时的社会情境,这等逆向工程也能由人类记录中得到帮助,其详载于史前年代,我是指化石、洞穴壁画等,我们也应考虑有种美学爱好对于孤立的集猎团体,一直到 19 和 20 世纪还存在,我个人毫不怀疑任何美学经验及其情绪张力及愉悦是属于我们已演化的人类心理,美学经验是其中一项构成要素,落在达尔文适应论的整个系列中。

美是一种适应的效应,我们加以延伸与强化,在艺术与娱乐作品的创造与愉悦当中,诚如各位所知,演化主要是透过两种主要的机制运作,首先是天择,即随机突变与选择性保留,根据我们的基本结构与生理,像是胰脏、眼睛或是指甲的演化,天择亦解释了许多基本的情绪反感,像是对腐肉异味的厌恶或是恐惧,对蛇的恐惧,或是站在悬崖边,天择也解释了愉悦,性愉悦,我们对甜味、脂质及蛋白质的偏好,也因此解释了许多食物受欢迎的原因,从熟果到巧克力麦芽糖及火烤肋排,另一项主要演化是性择,其运作十分特异,孔雀华丽的尾翼是最佳范例其演化并非为了自然生存,事实上,那有违自然生存,孔雀的尾翼是择偶选择的演化结果,由雌孔雀主导,那是个大家都熟悉的故事,实际上是女人在引导历史,顺道一提,达尔文自己没怀疑过孔雀的尾翼在雌孔雀眼中亦是美丽的,事实上,他用了那个字眼,如果各位将这些概念牢记心中,我们可以说美学经验是一种途径,演化借此激发与延续兴(性)趣或魅力,甚至是迷恋,以鼓励我们做出最能适应的抉择,便于生存与繁衍,美是自然保持距离的方式,可以这么说,我是说,各位不能期待吃下一“锅”合宜有益的景观,那无益于繁衍或择偶目的,所以,演化的技巧是美化,使其发挥某种吸引力,让人只用看的就能感到愉悦,稍想一下美感愉悦的重要来源,来自美丽风景的吸引力,来自非常不同文化的人,全世界皆然,都倾向于喜好特定的景观,一种碰巧类似于我们演化源头之更新世大草原的景观,这类景观显见于今日的日历、明信片、高尔夫球场与公园的设计,及镶金边的照片,常见挂在客厅墙上,从纽约到新西兰皆是如此,像是哈德逊河画派的景观,特色是开放的空间,遍地低矮的绿草点缀着丛丛灌木,另外,这些树通常倾向于树枝分叉到地面,也就是说那些树木有利于攀爬,彷佛它可将您牢牢抓住,景观呈现出水源就在视线的范围内,或以一抹蓝色远景点出水的形迹,也显示动物或鸟类生命的存在,以及绿意盎然的景像,最后,是这个(图示:猎人),一条小径或道路,或是河岸,或海岸线,向远处延伸出去,几乎像是在邀请您沿路寻去,这种景观类型被视为美丽,甚至对那些处于根本没有这类景观国家中的人们亦然,典型大草原景观是最清晰的一个范例,各地的人们都觉得美,都有相似的视觉体验,但有些人认为那只是自然美,艺术美又当如何?那不彻底就是文化吗?

不,我不这么认为,我要再次回顾史前以详加叙述,大家普遍认为人类最早的艺术作品是雄伟且技术高超的洞穴壁画,如众所皆知的拉斯科与肖维穴群,肖维穴群约有 32,000 年的历史,同期还有些许小型、写实的雕塑,关于女人与动物,但艺术与装饰技能实际上更加古老,美丽的贝壳项链,就像在艺术工艺展览中所见,还有赭土身体彩绘,存在于约 100,000 年前,但最引人入胜的史前工艺品甚至比此更古老,我意指的是,所谓的阿舍利手斧,最古老的石器是来自东非奥杜瓦伊峡谷的斧头,年代约是 250 万年前,这些未经加工的工具在数千个世纪以前就已存在,直至约 140 万年前,当直立人开始塑造单一的薄石刀,有时是圆卵形,但吸引我们目光的常是对称伸展的叶形或泪形,这些阿舍利手斧其名源自法国圣阿舍尔,考古发现是在 19 世纪开始,出土物成千上万,地域横跨亚洲、欧洲与非洲,范围几乎是所有直立人与匠人游走之地,但这些手斧的庞大数量显示它们不是用于宰杀动物,情节变得复杂,当您了解到,不像其它的更新世器具,这些手斧常是没有半点变钝的现象,针对其精细的刀锋而言,另外,有些根本就太大,不能用于屠宰,其对称性、迷人的材料,及最重要的,其细致的手工,确实十分漂亮,即使今日看来亦同,这些古董有何功用?我是说,它们古老、奇异,但同时也很相似,这些艺品有何功用?最简单的答案是它们根本上就是我们所知最早的艺品,实用器具转化成迷人的美丽物件,不论是其优雅的造型或其大师级的手艺,手斧标志着人类历史上的演化进步,器具经造型,功能转为达尔文派所称的健壮信号,也就是说,其展示出,表现出,像孔雀尾翼般的功能,除了,不像发丝与羽饰,手斧是有意识的精巧工艺,称职工匠手下的手斧,显示出令人向往的个人特质、智力、良好的运动神经控制力、计划能力、认真尽责,有时是获得稀有物质的能力,超过万代以来,此类技能提升那些能展示这些本领者的地位,也因此占有较优的繁衍优先权,对比于那些能力较差的人,以下这句台词已是老掉牙,但屡试不爽,“要不来我的洞中,我让你看我的手斧”(笑声),当然,有趣的是,除了我们不确定这行为是如何表达,因为直立人,即制作这个对象的人种,并无语言,很难抓个准头,但这却是不争的事实,这个物件是由人类祖先所制造,即直立人或匠人,年代介于 50 到 100,000 年,我是指语言出现之前,横跨一百万年的时间,手斧传统是最悠久的艺术传统,无论是人类或原人类的历史,手斧史诗过后,现代人,我们给冠上的名字,最终,毫无疑问地找出新方法取悦并使彼此惊喜,天晓得,也许是透过讲笑话、说故事、跳舞或设计发型,没错,设计发型,我没说错。

对我们现代人而言,匠心是用于创造想象的世界,在小说及电影中,以表达强烈的情感,方法是透过音乐、绘画及舞蹈,话说如此,一个我们先祖性格中的基本特质长留在我们对美丽的渴望中,那种美存在于技艺的展现中,从拉斯科穴到罗浮官,再到卡内基音乐厅,人类拥有一种永恒天生的品味,对于艺术中所显示的匠心,我们发现美存在于制作完美的事物中,因此,当各位下次经过珠宝店橱窗,看到雕工精美的泪型石的时候,先别急着说那很美,那只是各位的文化那么教导的结果,将闪亮的珠宝归入美的范畴,各位的远祖也喜爱那种形状,并从制作技能中发现美,甚至早于他们能将心中爱慕化作文字前,美是见仁见智的吗?不,美早已深藏我们心中,那是天赋,传承自我们最古老先祖的智慧技能及丰富情感生命,我们强而有力反应,针对影像、艺术中所传达的情感、音乐之美及夜空,都将一直与我们及后代同在,只要人类还存在,感谢聆听。

Delighted to be here and to talk to you about a subject dear to my heart, which is beauty. I do the philosophy of art, aesthetics, actually, for a living. I try to figure out intellectually, philosophically, psychologically, what the experience of beauty is, what sensibly can be said about it and how people go off the rails in trying to understand it. Now this is an extremely complicated subject, in part because the things that we call beautiful are so different. I mean just think of the sheer variety -- a baby's face, Berlioz's "Harold in Italy", movies like "The Wizard of Oz", or the plays of Chekhov, a central California landscape, a Hokusai view of Mt. Fuji, "Der Rosenkavalier", a stunning match winning goal in a World Cup soccer match, Van Gogh's "Starry Night", a Jane Austen novel, Fred Astaire dancing across the screen. This brief list includes human beings, natural landforms, works of art and skilled human actions. An account that explains the presence of beauty in everything on this list is not going to be easy.

I can, however, give you at least a taste of what I regard as the most powerful theory of beauty we yet have. And we get it, not from a philosopher of art, not from a postmodern art theorist or a bigwig art critic. No, this theory comes from an expert on barnacles and worms and pigeon breeding. And you know who I mean -- Charles Darwin. Of course, a lot of people think they already know the proper answer to the question, what is beauty? It's in the eye of the beholder. It's whatever moves you personally. Or, as some people -- especially academics -- prefer, beauty is in the culturally-conditioned eye of the beholder. People agree that paintings or movies or music are beautiful because their cultures determine a uniformity of aesthetic taste. Taste for both natural beauty and for the arts travel across cultures with great ease. Beethoven is adored in Japan. Peruvians love Japanese woodblock prints. Inca sculptures are regarded as treasures in British museums, while Shakespeare is translated into every major language of the Earth. Or just think about American jazz or American movies -- they go everywhere. There are many differences among the arts, but there are also universal, cross-cultural aesthetic pleasures and values.

How can we explain this universality? The best answer lies in trying to reconstruct a Darwinian evolutionary history of our artistic and aesthetic tastes. We need to reverse engineer our present artistic tastes and preferences and explain how they came to be engraved in our minds. By the actions of both our prehistoric, largely pleistocene environments, where we became fully human, but also by the social situations in which we evolved. This reverse engineering can also enlist help from the human record preserved in prehistory. I mean fossils, cave paintings and so forth. And it should take into account what we know of the aesthetic interests of isolated hunter-gatherer bands that survived into the 19th and the 20th centuries.

Now, I personally have no doubt whatsoever that the experience of beauty, with its emotional intensity and pleasure, belongs to our evolved human psychology. The experience of beauty is one component in a whole series of Darwinian adaptations. Beauty is an adaptive effect, which we extend and intensify in the creation and enjoyment of works of art and entertainment. As many of you will know, evolution operates by two main primary mechanisms. The first of these is natural selection -- that's random mutation and selective retention -- along with our basic anatomy and physiology -- the evolution of the pancreas or the eye or the fingernails. Natural selection also explains many basic revulsions, such as the horrid smell of rotting meat, or fears, such as the fear of snakes or standing close to the edge of a cliff. Natural selection also explains pleasures -- sexual pleasure, our liking for sweet, fat and proteins, which in turn explains a lot of popular foods, from ripe fruits through chocolate malts and barbecued ribs.

The other great principle of evolution is sexual selection, and it operates very differently. The peacock's magnificent tail is the most famous example of this. It did not evolve for natural survival. In fact, it goes against natural survival. No, the peacock's tail results from the mating choices made by peahens. It's quite a familiar story. It's women who actually push history forward. Darwin himself, by the way, had no doubts that the peacock's tail was beautiful in the eyes of the peahen. He actually used that word. Now, keeping these ideas firmly in mind, we can say that the experience of beauty is one of the ways that evolution has of arousing and sustaining interest or fascination, even obsession, in order to encourage us toward making the most adaptive decisions for survival and reproduction. Beauty is nature's way of acting at a distance, so to speak. I mean, you can't expect to eat an adaptively beneficial landscape. It would hardly do to your baby or your lover. So evolution's trick is to make them beautiful, to have them exert a kind of magnetism to give you the pleasure of simply looking at them.

Consider briefly and important source of aesthetic pleasure, the magnetic pull of beautiful landscapes. People in very different cultures all over the world tend to like a particular kind of landscape, a landscape that just happens to be similar to the pleistocene savannas where we evolved. This landscape shows up today on calendars, on postcards, in the design of golf courses and public parks and in in gold-framed pictures that hang in living rooms from New York to New Zealand. It's a kind of Hudson River school landscape featuring open spaces of low grasses interspersed with copses of trees. The trees, by the way, are often preferred if they fork near the ground, that is to say, if they're trees you could scramble up if you were in a tight fix. The landscape shows the presence of water directly in view, or evidence of water in a bluish distance, indications of animal or bird life as well as diverse greenery and finally -- get this -- a path or a road, perhaps a riverbank or a shoreline, that extends into the distance, almost inviting you to follow it. This landscape type is regarded as beautiful, even by people in countries that don't have it. The ideal savanna landscape is one of the clearest examples where human beings everywhere find beauty in similar visual experience.

But, someone might argue, that's natural beauty. How about artistic beauty? Isn't that exhaustively cultural? No, I don't think it is. And once again, I'd like to look back to prehistory to say something about it. It is widely assumed that the earliest human artworks are the stupendously skillful cave paintings that we all know from Lascaux and Chauvet. Chauvet caves are about 32,000 years old, along with a few small, realistic sculptures of women and animals from the same period. But artistic and decorative skills are actually much older than that. beautiful shell necklaces that look like something you'd see at an arts and crafts fair, as well as ochre body paint, have been found from around 100,000 years ago.

But the most intriguing prehistoric artifacts are older even than this. I have in mind the so-called Acheulian hand axes. The oldest stone tools are choppers from the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa. They go back about two and a half million years. These crude tools were around for thousands of centuries, until around 1.4 million years ago when Homo erectus started shaping single, thin stone blades, sometimes rounded ovals, but often in, what are to our eyes, an arresting, symmetrical pointed leaf or teardrop form. These Acheulian hand axes -- they're named after St. Acheul in France, where finds were made in 19th century -- have been unearthed in their thousands, scattered across Asia, Europe and Africa, almost everywhere Homo erectus and Homo ergaster roamed. Now, the sheer numbers of these hand axes shows that they can't have been made for butchering animals. And the plot really thickens when you realize that, unlike other pleistocene tools, the hand axes often exhibit no evidence of wear on their delicate blade edges. And some, in any event, are too big to use for butchery. Their symmetry, their attractive materials and, above all, their meticulous workmanship are simply quite beautiful to our eyes, even today.

So what were these ancient -- I mean, they're ancient, they're foreign, but they're at the same time somehow familiar. What were these artifacts for? The best available answer is that they were literally the earliest known works of art, practical tools transformed into captivating aesthetic objects, contemplated both for their elegant shape and their virtuoso craftsmanship. Hand axes mark an evolutionary advance in human history -- tools fashioned to function as what Darwinians call fitness signals -- that is to say, displays that are performances like the peacock's tail, except that, unlike hair and feathers, the hand axes are consciously cleverly crafted. Competently made hand axes indicated desirable personal qualities -- intelligence, fine motor control, planning ability, conscientiousness and sometimes access to rare materials. Over tens of thousands of generations, such skills increased the status of those who displayed them and gained a reproductive advantage over the less capable. You know, it's an old line, but it has been shown to work -- "Why don't you come up to my cave, so I can show you my hand axes."

(Laughter)

Except, of course, what's interesting about this is that we can't be sure how that idea was conveyed, because the Homo erectus that made these objects did not have language. It's hard to grasp, but it's an incredible fact. This object was made by a hominid ancestor -- Homo erectus or Homo ergaster -- between 50 and 100,000 years before language. Stretching over a million years, the hand axe tradition is the longest artistic tradition in human and proto-human history. By the end of the hand axe epic, Homo sapiens -- as they were then called, finally -- were doubtless finding new ways to amuse and amaze each other by, who knows, telling jokes, storytelling, dancing, or hairstyling. Yes, hairstyling -- I insist on that.

For us moderns, virtuoso technique is used to create imaginary worlds in fiction and in movies, to express intense emotions with music, painting and dance. But still, one fundamental trait of the ancestral personality persists in our aesthetic cravings: the beauty we find in skilled performances. From Lascaux to the Louvre to Carnegie Hall, human beings have a permanent innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts. We find beauty in something done well.

So the next time you pass a jewelry shop window displaying a beautifully cut teardrop-shaped stone, don't be so sure it's just your culture telling you that that sparkling jewel is beautiful. Your distant ancestors loved that shape and found beauty in the skill needed to make it, even before they could put their love into words. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? No, it's deep in our minds. It's a gift, handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors. Our powerful reaction to images to the expression of emotion in art to the beauty of music to the night sky will be with us and our dscendants for as long as the human race exists.

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