Does aesthetic beauty exist on a lower level?

Discussion in 'The Science Forum' started by Dashing_Chap, Dec 6, 2011.

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  1. Does aesthetic beauty exist on a lower level?

    Some of us can appreciate a pretty sunset, the artist's touch on a painting or the fine outline of a young lady's bum pressed against tight trousers. But can Kev down the pub reach the same level of enlightened sophistication?

    How about animals? Can they recognise things which are pretty and actually enjoy the beauty of nature like the sights and smells? Peacocks have elaborate tails, magpies like to steal shiny things. Can dogs and cats reach the same level of intelligence? Do bees see flowers as attractive visions or are they mere automatons?

    Where does this level of higher intelligence start and end? Is there any way to test it?





  2. You been at the LSD?? DC.
  3. Perhaps! It would certainly help to explain one of life's great mysteries, why does a Ferrari Testarossa windscreen attract more dead flies than a Reliant Robin?
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  4. IMO, the fact that we find things aesthetically pleasing is linked to reproduction.

    If that's true, then every creature that reproduces by shagging appreciates aesthetic beauty.
    All of them attract mates by releasing smells, calling them, performing dances or showing off pretty colours or other things. So of course animals can find things aesthetically pleasing, otherwise birds (the avian kind) would not have evolved so colourfully.

    People forget that we people are just the same animals, if we couldn't pass on ideas we'd all still living like cavemen, we haven't evolved much in the last 50000 years. Go out on the piss for proof.
  5. Soggy4978

    Soggy4978 Old-Salt Book Reviewer

    Although not exactly a scientific test (and the fact that I'm not sure if there really is a way to test or, more specifically, measure the results) I have discovered one thing.

    I have two pet rats, one of which is an albino and therefore has difficulty with some colours.

    The one who isn't albino will pick out the most colourful pieces of food first before hiding them in piles according to colour. Her sister meanwhile will pick up whatever and just dump it in a big pile so she can scoff on it later.

    Of course, one could just have OCD, I guess, but I like to think that the non albino rat just likes to see colours together rather than muddled up.
  6. Probably not.

    Goodness, those are different things. The first is an accident - a natural phenomenon we appreciate as aesthetic - similarly, a waterfall or the rings of Saturn. The second is deliberate - the artist is trying to make something appreciated by part (a small part, if it is modern art) of his audience. The last we've been programmed by millions of years of evolution to seek out. The bum, of course, not the jeans.

    Can he? Probably. Could he be arsed? Only for the last, I suspect. Although I don't know Kev. He might be the Irregius Prof of Art Appreciation at the local tech. Or a closeted occidensphile.

    Male peacocks have elaborate tails like some girls have big tits - it demonstrates their effectiveness as a breeder because they can waste energy on non-utilitarian display. Flowers are designed to be attractive to bees. See the bee orchid for an outrageous example. Many of them are more detailed in UV than they are in light visible to us. And insects use smell to communicate. Remember that smell is one of the most primitive senses - so it isn't too big a surprise that we also react. Yet you also have "carrion flowers", with the Titan Arum as the exemplar. Tastes clearly vary.

    We don't yet understand consciousness properly, a lower level phenomenon than intelligence. Once we have a better grasp on it, we may be able to try to develop a graduated scale and then test against it.
  7. A good question... At our level beauty like art it is still very subjective. At lower levels such as the appearance of mating sticklebacks, it's all about breeding. So perhaps beauty is really nature's way of definining health and fertility. We have developed this into certain aesthetic qualities... At lower levels it's probably more basic chemistry...

    A gazillion flies eat sh*t... therefore a steaming dog turd is a Rodin sculpture to a fly. Right?
  8. Ther Ferrari's windscreen is larger than that of a Reliant Robin thus sweeping a greater area of fly-containing atmosphere. In addition, Ferraris usually travel further than Robins, thus leveraging their area advantage into an even greater volume advantage. Thirdly, the modal speeds of Ferraris and Robin means that flies have less time to see and avoid a predatory Ferrari and the impact is usually fatal for the fly due to the greater deceleration; in fact, should any fly be sufficiently slow-witted, ie dense, to collide with a Robin, it will probably bounce off the windscreen. Finally, no self-respecting fly would caught dead on Reliant Robin ... the latter fact probably verifying the OP's hypothesis.
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  9. Animals? Undoubtedly some can.

    Kev down the pub? Not a chance.

    At a lower level? "Aesthetic Beauty" is implicitly built into the very fabric of the Universe.
  10. I challenge that assumption!

    The Ferrari is more areodynamically efficient and so the air flows over the windscreen more smoothly, taking the flies with it. Whereas, the reliant is much less aerodynamic and so the air hits the screen more like a soggy wet sponge, causing the flies to stick.

    When I first drove my ferrari in the rain, the Vectra hachback model, I was pleased to see how the raindrops travelled up the screen with the airflow. Rather than just running downwards.
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  11. Big innuendo...

    Everything in the universe must be built into "the very fabric of the universe"...including Leprosy . Beauty is purely subjective.
  12. Innuendo? In what way is it an innuendo?

    Yep. But it is a point that many overlook completely, particularly in terms of conscious artefacts. I suspect it's one DC didn't pick up on.

    Is it? Is the colour "green" subjective? If so, why?
  13. The colour green per se isn't subjective, but finding it aesthetically pleasing is. Surprised no-one else has trotted out the line yet:

    "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"
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  14. Nope. "Built into" is neither equivalent nor identical to "possible within". Rerun the universe, if you could, which you can't, and you're not going to to get leprosy. The argument is whether there is an underlying beauty "field" or requirement within the fundamental constraints or constants of this particular universe. Now, I don't believe there is.

    Hmm, is electromagnetic radiation within the 490 to 560 nanometre band subjective? No, but the connection between that objective statement and "green" is. Perception of colour depends on all sorts of things - species, correct functioning of the retinal cones and the way the brain then works. Also, following G-M's point, some people like green (I do) and some people are much less appreciative (Mrs I). So you can probably argue that "green" is subjective.
  15. I am sorry that I used the word "built" implies purpose. It was the innuendo from Cogi that I wanted to identify... It's strange how we may agree that an underlying beauty "field" is at best unlikely. You are making progress... :)

    Beauty is a human concept and completely subjective.