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    Thread: Beauty

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      Beauty

      The experience of beauty has always been something of great interest to me. It may seem like somewhat of an ambiguous subject since many classify it as a subjective thing, but there's just something so vividly real about it that fascinates the hell out of me. I've had strong experiences of beauty in real life before, but a few nights ago I dreamed of mountains with colorful twilight clouds behind them. The feeling that the scene gave me was euphorically amazing, not very comparable but better than sex or an orgasm imo. Sights in real life have given me this euphoria before too, and the experiences were so seriously significant that I can't help but wonder where this feeling is coming from. It's not really a sexual feeling at all, it's more of a powerful ethereal bliss in the mind, hard to pin point really. I guess my question is how is it that certain colors and patterns that the eye produces from environmental stimuli (in this case light) trigger such a euphoric response in the mind? Was there some sort of evolutionary advantage to experiencing beauty? Could it just be an enjoyable neurological accident? Is it experienced more for personal reasons? I'm interested if anyone else has had a strong experience of beauty and why they think they experienced it. Anyone know of any research attempting to explain this phenomenon?
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      ~Fantasizer~ <s><span class='glow_FF1493'>Alyzarin</span></s>'s Avatar
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      You're more likely to explore your environment and try to figure out how it works if you think it's incredibly interesting. Dopamine is the reinforcement chemical, it gets released when you eat, orgasm, accomplish a goal, get an endorphin rush, whatever. It's what makes us feel good. If you get a huge dopamine release from your environment and whatever you're dealing with then you're going to spend more time thinking about it and get more involved in it. It's what motivates us to live our lives.

      That's what I'm guessing.

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      Czar Salad IndieAnthias's Avatar
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      Steven Pinker would say it's a by-product. There is a tendency among evolutionary biologists to underestimate by-products (see the Spandrels of San Marco), wanting to explain everything interesting as adaptively significant. If motivation to explore is the reason sensitivity to beauty evolved, than it would have to be present in all animals that explore their environment as much as hunter/gatherer humans did. Our spread to all continents and the arctic was remarkable for hominids, though, and sensitivity to beauty might play into that. But it seems like there's lots of migratory birds that "explore" just as much as humans do.

      I like the middle-ground argument from Joseph Carroll, that beauty is hyper-stimulus of more basic evolved systems. So the things we have an evolutionary reason to be attracted to, like edible food, a habitable place, or a healthy mate, are identified by simple mental mechanisms. Beauty is these mechanisms being flooded with stimulus.
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      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      I was going to bring up Pinker, too. To paraphrase, he calls things like this 'neural cheesecake'. We did not evolve to like cheesecake. In fact eating lots of cheesecake is bad for us. But we like it because it stimulates senses in a way that would previously have indicated a behaviour advantageous for survival, namely eating a high-energy food in a food-scarce environment.

      Our appreciation of beauty could well be an evolutionary pointless epiphenomenon of many evolutionarily well-founded things (most obviously our attraction to fit members of the opposite sex) interacting.

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      Member Woodstock's Avatar
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      Xei, how are you posting if you're banned?

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      Xei
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      Stubbornness.
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      Lucid Shaman mcwillis's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Woodstock View Post
      Xei, how are you posting if you're banned?
      It was just a temporary banishment to give him time to reflect on forum etiquette.

      Please click on the links below, more techniques under investigation to come soon...


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      I would define beauty as a perfect actualization of an essential continuity or otherwise important need

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      Czar Salad IndieAnthias's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by mcwillis View Post
      It was just a temporary banishment to give him time to reflect on forum etiquette.
      Not to be a jerk, but I warned you that you were being an ass. I don't care what nationality you are. You were being an ass.
      Hi, Xei.

      Anyway, are you speaking of beauty in general, or beauty within dreams? I think it is worth noting that dreams are strongly connected to emotion, according to sources that I don't remember. I have experienced this personally, though. I can ONLY cry in my dreams. I have noted, many times, just how much more emotional I am about things in my dreams. I have woken up crying about things that I didn't care about the minute I woke up.
      ---o--- my DCs say I'm dreamy.

    11. #11
      Xei
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      As belligerently peeving as you can be, ED has been pretty lacking in life recently, so it's good to see you around again bro.

    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by IndieAnthias View Post
      So the things we have an evolutionary reason to be attracted to, like edible food, a habitable place, or a healthy mate, are identified by simple mental mechanisms.
      I might not fully understand the point, but one problem with this idea is that some of the most beautiful places (visually at least) in the world are inhospitable to human life. Polar regions, deserts etc. I guess that's covered though by "overstimulated".

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      Czar Salad IndieAnthias's Avatar
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      Yeah, overstimulated... just like the most delicious food is terrible for you. But I am being a bit speculative about linking beauty in landscape to a 'hospitable environment mechanism'. I don't think that's been explored yet by evolutionary psychologists who developed this theory. Mate choice has been done to death though.

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