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No other species does this.

What is the grand scale purpose of art to us as a species?

Is it because we don't need to catch prey everyday and now have alot more free time on our hands?

Why do we make art?
 

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There's no grand purpose to art, except art itself.
 

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No other species does this.
I'm not so sure about that. Can we consider art this bower that was built by a bird?
 

Why do we make art?
Humans like to express the stuff in their head. Art is a way to express things that can not be expressed otherwise. Rational explanation through words has its limits.
 

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It might help to consider the historical trajectory of what has been considered art as a continuous project through the ages. Because it likely satisfied different ends at different times through different means. Art in recent years has become quite abstract and conceptual.
https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1048&context=phi

It is true that actions are carried out by individuals, but such actions are possible and only have meaning in so far as they participate in sociocultural practices. There are two important questions here, Westphal suggests: (1) are individuals the only bearers of psychological states, and (2) can psychological states be understood in individual terms? Individualists answer both questions in the armative, and most holists answer both questions in the negative. Hegel, however, answers the rst question armatively and the second negatively.108 In other words, it is only individuals who act, have intentions, construct facts, and so forth. Nevertheless, such acts, intentions, and facts cannot be understood apart from sociocultural practices—their meaning can only be understood as interpreted in a sociocultural context.
 

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No other species does this.

What is the grand scale purpose of art to us as a species?

Is it because we don't need to catch prey everyday and now have alot more free time on our hands?

Why do we make art?
Elephants do.

Why humans do it?
In the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Why the need to create? Like elephants, creating art can also be seen as a spiritual form of self-expression, an innate thought, concept, and/or feeling that comes from within, our needs to self-express ourselves into this mere physical manifestation of reality.

Art is healing. And art can be expressed in many ways. It's a creative process that allows us to come into harmony with what we feel inside. It gives voice to meaning we cannot always express into words. Kids who go through trauma can also use art to heal, as they don't have concrete words to convey their pain felt.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Elephants do.

Why humans do it?
In the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Why the need to create? Like elephants, creating art can also be seen as a spiritual form of self-expression, an innate thought, concept, and/or feeling that comes from within, our needs to self-express ourselves into this mere physical manifestation of reality.

Art is healing. And art can be expressed in many ways. It's a creative process that allows us to come into harmony with what we feel inside. It gives voice to meaning we cannot always express into words. Kids who go through trauma can also use art to heal, as they don't have concrete words to convey their pain felt.
Besides all that how does art largely contribute to our survival? What I mostly gathered from your post is that art is a form of psychological survival. It keeps us sane in thinking there is more to us than the physical, because to think the latter would be disingenuous. I'll roll with that for now. But biologically there is no need for art.
 

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1.Artists want to share their emotions, desires and experiences with others. They really express their individuality, even if sometimes this gets slightly narcistic.
2.Art can be used to connect a group, that's why we have national anthems and tribal societies have totems.
3.Some artworks serve pure aesthetic pleasure, e.g. in some traditional Melanesian cultures almost every object serving some practical purpose is decorated.
 

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Elephants do.
Like elephants, creating art can also be seen as a spiritual form of self-expression, an innate thought, concept, and/or feeling that comes from within, our needs to self-express ourselves into this mere physical manifestation of reality.
I suggest you look more into what's going on with the elephants. They are basically trained to draw the same painting over and over and in addition the mahout guides the elephant throughout the whole process by tugging their ear, pulling their tusk and patting on their trunk. The elephant also has to go through a process called phajaan; they take a baby elephant, put it in a small cage of bamboo sticks and break it down through torture so that they will become obedient through learned helplessness.
 

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In my perception, Humans create art for individualism, expressions of inner self, and their views of the outward world.

when seen through their eyes, in whatever medium they choose to use, we see their inner thoughts, their inner world. their soul laid bare on canvas, stone or whatever else they choose.

Art is a basic wordless conversation the artist makes with the beholder. And as individual as any snowflake, the art that is created is as individual as the person who created it, regardless of type.

It is a vivid reminder to us all,that we are not just flesh and bones, but have a more important purpose, other than procreation.
 

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In my perception, Humans create art for individualism, expressions of inner self, and their views of the outward world.

when seen through their eyes, in whatever medium they choose to use, we see their inner thoughts, their inner world. their soul laid bare on canvas, stone or whatever else they choose.

Art is a basic wordless conversation the artist makes with the beholder. And as individual as any snowflake, the art that is created is as individual as the person who created it, regardless of type.

It is a vivid reminder to us all,that we are not just flesh and bones, but have a more important purpose, other than procreation.

Being a poet with a back log that spans 2 decades, I just wanted to respond to this. I can totally see and agree with TinkeringSquirrel, however I would like to add that for the artist itself there is also the element of feeling involved. Whether it is a painting, a sculpture or even a poem or short story, the artist shows his or her feelings with the world. Shows a glimpse of an inner world so full of beauty or other emotion. Art is therefore created for multiple purposes, either to make a statement, express feelings or simply to make the world a more beautiful place.
 

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To glorify their beautiful imagination and turning it into something real.

To get that good feeling after turning complicated feelings and ideas into paintings colors and anything physical.

To communicate

To leave a mark in this world so other humans can see and feel.
 

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I suggest you look more into what's going on with the elephants. They are basically trained to draw the same painting over and over and in addition the mahout guides the elephant throughout the whole process by tugging their ear, pulling their tusk and patting on their trunk. The elephant also has to go through a process called phajaan; they take a baby elephant, put it in a small cage of bamboo sticks and break it down through torture so that they will become obedient through learned helplessness.
Interesting, and sad. I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case in some parts of the world.
Have you ever seen an elephant shake it's booty like this before?
Even animals have their own unique abilities to self-express themselves, especially through their own personalities. Although they don't have manual dexterity like humans do, they also exhibit nightmares like humans do. This indicates at least some level of abstraction, at least in their minds in how they interpret the world and how they exist.

I still think the need to create is intrinsic in all humans, and is expressed in many different ways depending on our gifts and talents as a unique expression of the soul in the human experience. It could be used just as a statement, or any form that allows one to express their own uniqueness.
 

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@strawberryLola

I have seen that video before, elephants being one of my favourite animals :) The sounds Peter is making and the head bobbing seems to me he is enjoying it but that's a rather subjective interpretation on my part. I used to think a cat purring meant it was happy, but later on learned that cats do that too when they are in severe pain as a way of calming themselves, which suggests it's not necessarily an expression that they are happy. So on the whole I'm skeptical about interpreting animal communication without knowing all the contexts of how it's used. Here's a point though, Peter is also using his trunk to generate sounds on the piano, which I doubt any music lover would appreciate listening to but he doesn't seem to differentiate between those sounds and the music being played, so maybe he is just enjoying generating sounds using his trunk, nothing really to do with music.

I don't think nightmares have any level of abstraction. Dreams on the whole seems to be completely absent of thought, but merely a stream of often incoherent perceptions and feelings. There is no aboutness about them, just an is-ness and being in the now. As soon as you start thinking about them then you are already in a half-awake state and have realized that it's a dream.

Elephants like most other animals have very sophisticated way of perceiving reality, even single cellular ones have sophisticated perceptrons built into them genetically to deal with a large variety of different types of situations that affect their survival positively or negatively. This is also true about ourselves, but humans also differ at significant points in unique ways that puts us apart from the rest, and the gateway of that apartness stems from our heritage of human language. If you observe a feral child that have been brought back to civilization past the narrow age window in which language can be learnt, you will notice it behaves a lot more like an animal, and have great difficulty to adapt into civilization, sometimes ending up escaping from it back into the wilderness. Language shapes our world and how we understand it, and it's the tool we use to forge abstractions, and unfortunately no other animal has been able to develop neural capacity to make use of it, which is no great wonder, because it is a very expensive capacity that they cannot afford since they are for the greatest part of their lives occupied with survival and are thus tightly kept on a short leash by wise instincts. Even a great portion of humanity sticks close to instinct and engage little in original thought but sticks to the thought patterns staked out for them by others, in the way ants stick to pheromone paths of other ants until they become ant highways. Our highways are however to a great extent built on abstract thought, but for animals, there is no sign of such, and even if an animal was to make some insightful discovery, it would die in one generation because there's no way of communicating it, and so there is no progress culturally among animals.
 


A last point is, I don't think art is a form of self expression, but is an expression of aesthetic ideas which are universal, but at the same time escapes any form of definition or conceptual grasp. An artist does not design something according to an idea that he is consciously aware of, but merely explores one that reside in him subconsciously and is only uncovered by trial and error.
 

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This touches on a lot of stuff:

 

Other reasons include passing along life lessons, moral lessons, using cave paintings to alert others as to what's out there, documentation, cultural reasons, and so forth. Art also serves mental health purposes (music, writing, and physical art). The process of creating art can help with physical attributes as well. Piano helps alleviate hand pain (I have first hand experience with this), for example. Actively listening to music got me through two of the roughest months I've experienced simultaneously physically and mentally. Art serves many purposes.
 

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There's no 'deep' existential reason for art to exist or for people to create it. It's also like asking why people have emotions or have emotional responses to art. People just do. Art is whatever different cultural groups and individuals want it to be, which influences why people value art either as a finished product and/or a work in progress. And there are many arbitrary characteristics that distinguish humans from other beings, and what's 'unique' is relative—seen through only the lens of culturally constructed categories. Plus people often confuse the 'how' and ‘what happens’ with the 'why' while believing that valuing a specific outcome or effect is the same thing as identifying a self-evident 'universal' or 'transcendental' purpose. This confusion implies an ‘is’ that somebody values is the same thing as a ‘should’.
 
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