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The Boston Globe


Book review

Looking for answers about why art moves us so

We are an art-obsessed species: It exists in every human culture, and most people devote some part of their lives to making or experiencing some form of art. But why do pictures, music, stories, and the like matter so much to us? Why should we put so much effort into pursuits that often have few if any obvious material rewards? Why are we able to become emotionally involved with narratives about imaginary people, and why do we seek out this form of emotional engagement?

One way to try to answer such questions is to provide an evolutionary account, in which facts about our art-related behavior are explained by the work of Darwin and his later followers. Such behaviors might be held to have provided our ancestors with reproductive advantages, or to be related in some way or other to behaviors that did.

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