Dutton on Darwin: The Biology of Art

Image: The Yorck Project 2002

The world of digital media rested its scrutinising eye on philosophy late last year, as the late Denis Dutton, philosopher of art, delivered a talk to TED, the American-based conference organisation dedicated primarily to its eponymous fields of technology, entertainment and design, as well as more broadly business, global issues and science. Dutton, who held the position of professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand until his death last month after losing his fight with prostate cancer, gave a taster of the evolutionary theory of art appreciation developed in his 2009 book The Art Instinct. Since 1984 the TED audience have been addressed by speakers such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Al Gore and Michelle Obama, and even Jamie Oliver. In keeping with the theme of the aesthetically pleasing, the whole lecture has been stylishly illustrated by animator Andrew Park and released for all to admire on YouTube.

Continue reading “Dutton on Darwin: The Biology of Art”

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Foe of Feminists Revived

Image: Bilz 1894

Last year biological determinism in the study of sex and gender experienced a resurgence, with the professor of Development Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, Simon Baron-Cohen, as its new figurehead.

In the spring months of 2010, the issue of female representation in public and intellectual spheres was passed along from public intellectual to public intellectual in a series of finger-pointing articles featured on the Guardian website.

Critic and novelist Bidisha initiatiated the debate with a scathing attack on the sorry state of the literary festivals and competitions that she had been involved with, complaining that she was ‘tired of being the token woman’. In the process Bidisha implicated Hay’s How The Light Gets In philosophy festival for its disproportionate number of male speakers. She revealed that she was happy to have had to drop out of the event on account of other engagements, highlighting that the only approvable gender balance in the whole festival was unfortunately within the entertainment tents.

Julian Baggini, the increasingly public face of philosophy as well as adviser to the How The Light Gets In festival, responded with an appeal to the practical issues involved in booking female guests, who he maintains are culpable to some extent Continue reading “Foe of Feminists Revived”