Ellen Dissanyake: homo aestheticus

In this phone interview conducted by Margot Osborne with North American ethologist Ellen Dissanyake in her home in Seattle her case for a species-centric approach to art is explored through the ideas in her books Homo Aestheticus (1992) and Art and Intimacy (2000). She states that some form of art as an activity has existed in all societies across all times and is innate in human nature. The core of this innate activity is making special, or elaboration. From this species-centric perspective, many recent developments in art are seen by Dissanayake as unfortunate aberrations and a denial of the positive life-enhancing qualities of art.

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