(16-02-2013 02:03 PM)Pratibha Wrote: 1. Sweet: I'm skeptical about this theory of humans having evolved to like sweet taste. Just take a look at the traditional Kerala Sadya, and there are all sorts of tastes in there. There's a lot of spice, some dishes taste sour, some are bland, some are bitter, and some are sweet. There's no reason to suppose that the taste of the Payasam is appreciated any more than that of the other dishes.
Better arguments are needed for why 'sweetness' is singled out as a case study of evolutionary advantage, than saying that it is about a preference for high-cal foods which itself raises the question of why a similar preference for high-protein foods did not earn such a distinction for 'umami
'. However this singling out does seem impressively cross-cultural,noting that sweetness in most Indo-European languages is treated as synonymous with pleasure even in non-food contexts, and is the taste of choice for symbolically celebratory foods. This cultural (or cross-cultural) embrace of sweetness seems fairly recent (or at least post-agricultural) since the Paleolithic Diet
(adopted religiously by proponents of Evolutionary Gastroenterology if you will) seems quite umami-centric, upsetting a smooth narrative from a fruit-loving primate to a confectionery-guzzling human.
(16-02-2013 02:03 PM)Pratibha Wrote: 4. Funny: Didn't make any sense. Probably needs a reading of that book.
As for the part on 'funny', Dr. V S Ramachandran among others holds the view that we enjoy jokes because the process of 'getting a joke' activates opioid reward pathways associated with pattern-learning and recognition. This so-called "Aha! moment" explanation
is the evo psych argument that the evolutionary advantage conferred by being able to detect lions obscured by the savannah grass, explains the popularity of art or stories involving some peek-a-boo, suspense or Where's-Waldo
(16-02-2013 02:03 PM)Pratibha Wrote: 2. Sexy: This part is the most difficult to digest. If sexiness has been evolutionarily selected for in the Pleistocene, we should have uniform standards for this trait across cultures. We don't really see that, do we? The factors that constitute "sexy" have undergone a substantial change within the past century in most all cultures.
VSR's view that 'aesthetic universals' maybe discerned in art notwithstanding confounding overlaid cultural diversity, remains more neurophilosophical than neuroscientific for the simple reason that the effect of 'cultural evolution' isn't readily deconfounded or even tenably distinguishable from 'biological evolution'. For instance, it is hard to find an empirical handle to questions like 'Would the Chola sculptor's proportions
match those of a hypothetical Pleistocene pinup? Even if there maybe similarities between the Chola bronzes and today's norm of the supermodel, were they liked in their societies for the same reasons?'
(16-02-2013 07:49 PM)Captain Mandrake Wrote: Evolutionary advantage of finding babies cute could be that you don't beat it to a pulp when it cries. Those who did not beat up the babies had their babies grow up and have babies of their own that they found cute..... Thus finding babies cute is a trait that evolved in humans.
Human trait to find babies cute also made them use "cuteness" as a trait in domestication. Hence the cute kittens and puppies. Evolutionary advantage is for the cats and dogs.
The assumption that 'babies are found cute by adult humans' may miss the point about healthy
babies preferred by potential providers, a preference taken to extremes
in societies like Sparta. The attributes abstracted as 'cuteness' and also of the supposed 'benevolence' it invites, may have more to do with the greater estimated payoffs of the infant human/dog/cat when it is grown rather than during infancy. Even in religio-cultural imagery, a 'calf' or a 'lamb' is used to evoke affection, more so than a 'cow' or 'sheep' both of which are seen as objects of recruitment in some way, either for veneration or evangelization.
What aspects of a healthy phenotype are chosen for abstraction into a norm of 'beauty' or 'cuteness' is not entirely biologically determined, and cultural differences in which aspects are chosen maybe significant. For instance, Renaissance painters emphasize buccal fat
to convey cuteness of cherubs
, whereas Puranic poets emphasize the luxuriant curls
of the infant Krishna's hair
Dignifying as settled science evolutionary-psychological speculation about why certain norms of beauty acquired the staying power they did, carries the risk of underestimating how mutable such norms may be by processes of socialization
of the sort that begins in kindergarten