On Mon, Jun 02, 2003 at 12:18:20AM -0400, Sally Caves wrote:
> > And while I agree with [that statement],
> ....that society first and foremost functions without art?

No, that humans are machines.   :)  You're correct, though,
that I was using a definition of art that was somewhat narrow.
Defined more broadly, as you have done, then there are definitely
utilitarian aspects of artistic behavior.

And, to contradict myself on the basis of having read more
information, it does appear that art may be as hard-wired as
language; some aspects of the Universal People discussed by Pinker
in _The_Language_Instinct_ are artistic.  For instance, just about
every society has poetry composed of three-second lines separated
by pauses.

> The original argument was whether artistic development came after linguistic
> development or developed with it.

Or before it.  The specific suggest I took issue with was that language
originated as a form of artistic expression.

> We have all agreed that we are in basic ignorance about this fact.
> I think one could argue safely that writing developed reasonably late.

Absolutely, but writing is distinct from language.  It is a wholly
learned skill, and as far as we can determine developed spontaneously
only a few times in human history, whereas language - either spoken or
signed - is universal.

> I would go further and say that [art] is probably as ancient in development
> as language is.

Perhaps.  I don't think it's necessarily more ancient, however.

Thank you for the discussion.  I will go back to my researches somewhat
chastened and try to avoid such bald statements in the future.  But I
still don't see language as being first art and later communication. :)