"Now that those who practise justice do so involuntarily and because they have not the power to be unjust will best appear if we imagine something of this kind: having given both to the just and the unjust power to do what they will, let us watch and see whither desire will lead them; then we shall discover in the very act the just and unjust man to be proceeding along the same road, following their interest, which all natures deem to be their good, and are only diverted into the path of justice by the force of law. The liberty which we are supposing may be most completely given to them in the form of such a power as is said to have been possessed by Gyges the ancestor of Croesus the Lydian. According to the tradition, Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the king of Lydia; there was a great storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the place where he was feeding his flock. Amazed at the sight, he descended into the opening, where, among other marvels, he beheld a hollow brazen horse, having doors, at which he stooping and looking in saw a dead body of stature, as appeared to him, more than human, and having nothing on but a gold ring; this he took from the finger of the dead and reascended. Now the shepherds met together, according to custom, that they might send their monthly report about the flocks to the king; into their assembly he came having the ring on his finger, and as he was sitting among them he chanced to turn the collet of the ring inside his hand, when instantly he became invisible to the rest of the company and they began to speak of him as if he were no longer present. He was astonished at this, and again touching the ring he turned the collet outwards and reappeared; he made several trials of the ring, and always with the same result-when he turned the collet inwards he became invisible, when outwards he reappeared. Whereupon he contrived to be chosen one of the messengers who were sent to the court; where as soon as he arrived he seduced the queen, and with her help conspired against the king and slew him, and took the kingdom. Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other;,no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another's, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another's faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice."
(The Republic, Plato, Internet Classics Archive)
[Plato describes a situation which I think is best understood in terms of the choice between individual and collective benefit. Where it serves our individual interests (as members and custodians of our society) to strive towards a collective ambition. In this way the recent mugging in London shows what happens when this ambition is inverted.]
"The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had before endured, and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain; I slept, indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel. I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch - the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs. I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited, where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life."
(Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) Shelley, The Project Gutenberg)
"The concept of the USP, as seen by the brand manager, is to focus on one main selling benefit of the brand versus those offered by competitors. The strategic thinking which goes into selecting a brand's USP resembles warfare between competitive brands, with imagery maps reflecting the battlefield, and positioning statements as the weapons. But where is the consumer in all of this?
Consumers do not want one characteristic or one USP. Consumers want it all. Why should a consumer have to choose between the longest lasting pain reliever versus the fast acting, or the safest, most gentle, or the cheapest priced? The concept of marketing a USP is not a consumer-centric view. It is not a realistic, relevant reflection of how consumers operate. Furthermore, a USP for a brand is limiting in appeal by the very definition of trying to sell one main benefit to the sub-segment of consumers which most values that one benefit. Consumers want pain relievers to be fast-acting, and safe, and strong, and inexpensive and more.
The consumers' emphasis on one or more of these benefits changes from occasion to occasion, and from mood to mood. Consumers are not stable, nor consistently rational. Although segmentation research allows us to place consumers into distinct groups, and to put a descriptive label on each person, consumers are not fixed with just the characteristics of the one segment. The reality is all consumers have all emotional needs within them. Some elements/associations are stronger and some are weaker, depending on the person and the day. Our emotional desires fluctuate such that what appeals to one person in one week might be less appropriate for the same person the next week. These fluctuations are hard to target because a population of consumers are all in fluctuation. This is why segmentation research can be so frustrating to market researchers when trying to neatly explain brand behaviors. Unique segments do not uniquely buy just one or two uniquely defined brands. And segments are not stable.
Instead, brand managers should be targeting all consumers with the intention of painting their brand with the emotional associations the brand can satiate. Market research should focus on emotional need states in all consumers rather than focus on segments as if they are stable and mutually exclusive. "
(John Hallward, 2007)
2). excerpt from John Hallward (2007). "Gimme! The Human Nature of Successful Marketing", Wiley
"Delighted to be here and to talk to you about a subject dear to my heart, which is beauty. I do the philosophy of art, aesthetics, actually, for a living. I try to figure out intellectually, philosophically, psychologically, what the experience of beauty is, what sensibly can be said about it and how people go off the rails in trying to understand it. Now this is an extremely complicated subject, in part because the things that we call beautiful are so different. I mean just think of the sheer variety -- a baby's face, Berlioz's 'Harold in Italy', movies like 'The Wizard of Oz', or the plays of Chekhov, a central California landscape, a Hokusai view of Mt. Fuji, 'Der Rosenkavalier', a stunning match winning goal in a World Cup soccer match, Van Gogh's 'Starry Night', a Jane Austen novel, Fred Astaire dancing across the screen. This brief list includes human beings, natural landforms, works of art and skilled human actions. An account that explains the presence of beauty in everything on this list is not going to be easy.
I can, however, give you at least a taste of what I regard as the most powerful theory of beauty we yet have. And we get it, not from a philosopher of art, not from a postmodern art theorist or a bigwig art critic. No, this theory comes from an expert on barnacles and worms and pigeon breeding. And you know who I mean -- Charles Darwin. Of course, a lot of people think they already know the proper answer to the question, what is beauty? It's in the eye of the beholder. It's whatever moves you personally. Or, as some people -- especially academics -- prefer, beauty is in the culturally-conditioned eye of the beholder. People agree that paintings or movies or music are beautiful because their cultures determine a uniformity of aesthetic taste. Taste for both natural beauty and for the arts travel across cultures with great ease. Beethoven is adored in Japan. Peruvians love Japanese woodblock prints. Inca sculptures are regarded as treasures in British museums, while Shakespeare is translated into every major language of the Earth. Or just think about American jazz or American movies -- they go everywhere. There are many differences among the arts, but there are also universal, cross-cultural aesthetic pleasures and values.
How can we explain this universality? The best answer lies in trying to reconstruct a Darwinian evolutionary history of our artistic and aesthetic tastes. We need to reverse engineer our present artistic tastes and preferences and explain how they came to be engraved in our minds. By the actions of both our prehistoric, largely pleistocene environments, where we became fully human, but also by the social situations in which we evolved. This reverse engineering can also enlist help from the human record preserved in prehistory. I mean fossils, cave paintings and so forth. And it should take into account what we know of the aesthetic interests of isolated hunter-gatherer bands that survived into the 19th and the 20th centuries.
Now, I personally have no doubt whatsoever that the experience of beauty, with its emotional intensity and pleasure, belongs to our evolved human psychology. The experience of beauty is one component in a whole series of Darwinian adaptations. Beauty is an adaptive effect, which we extend and intensify in the creation and enjoyment of works of art and entertainment. As many of you will know, evolution operates by two main primary mechanisms. The first of these is natural selection -- that's random mutation and selective retention -- along with our basic anatomy and physiology -- the evolution of the pancreas or the eye or the fingernails. Natural selection also explains many basic revulsions, such as the horrid smell of rotting meat, or fears, such as the fear of snakes or standing close to the edge of a cliff. Natural selection also explains pleasures -- sexual pleasure, our liking for sweet, fat and proteins, which in turn explains a lot of popular foods, from ripe fruits through chocolate malts and barbecued ribs.
The other great principle of evolution is sexual selection, and it operates very differently. The peacock's magnificent tail is the most famous example of this. It did not evolve for natural survival. In fact, it goes against natural survival. No, the peacock's tail results from the mating choices made by peahens. It's quite a familiar story. It's women who actually push history forward. Darwin himself, by the way, had no doubts that the peacock's tail was beautiful in the eyes of the peahen. He actually used that word. Now, keeping these ideas firmly in mind, we can say that the experience of beauty is one of the ways that evolution has of arousing and sustaining interest or fascination, even obsession, in order to encourage us toward making the most adaptive decisions for survival and reproduction. Beauty is nature's way of acting at a distance, so to speak. I mean, you can't expect to eat an adaptively beneficial landscape. It would hardly do to your baby or your lover. So evolution's trick is to make them beautiful, to have them exert a kind of magnetism to give you the pleasure of simply looking at them.
Consider briefly and important source of aesthetic pleasure, the magnetic pull of beautiful landscapes. People in very different cultures all over the world tend to like a particular kind of landscape, a landscape that just happens to be similar to the pleistocene savannas where we evolved. This landscape shows up today on calendars, on postcards, in the design of golf courses and public parks and in in gold-framed pictures that hang in living rooms from New York to New Zealand. It's a kind of Hudson River school landscape featuring open spaces of low grasses interspersed with copses of trees. The trees, by the way, are often preferred if they fork near the ground, that is to say, if they're trees you could scramble up if you were in a tight fix. The landscape shows the presence of water directly in view, or evidence of water in a bluish distance, indications of animal or bird life as well as diverse greenery and finally -- get this -- a path or a road, perhaps a riverbank or a shoreline, that extends into the distance, almost inviting you to follow it. This landscape type is regarded as beautiful, even by people in countries that don't have it. The ideal savanna landscape is one of the clearest examples where human beings everywhere find beauty in similar visual experience.
But, someone might argue, that's natural beauty. How about artistic beauty? Isn't that exhaustively cultural? No, I don't think it is. And once again, I'd like to look back to prehistory to say something about it. It is widely assumed that the earliest human artworks are the stupendously skillful cave paintings that we all know from Lascaux and Chauvet. Chauvet caves are about 32,000 years old, along with a few small, realistic sculptures of women and animals from the same period. But artistic and decorative skills are actually much older than that. beautiful shell necklaces that look like something you'd see at an arts and crafts fair, as well as ochre body paint, have been found from around 100,000 years ago.
But the most intriguing prehistoric artifacts are older even than this. I have in mind the so-called Acheulian hand axes. The oldest stone tools are choppers from the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa. They go back about two and a half million years. These crude tools were around for thousands of centuries, until around 1.4 million years ago when Homo erectus started shaping single, thin stone blades, sometimes rounded ovals, but often in, what are to our eyes, an arresting, symmetrical pointed leaf or teardrop form. These Acheulian hand axes -- they're named after St. Acheul in France, where finds were made in 19th century -- have been unearthed in their thousands, scattered across Asia, Europe and Africa, almost everywhere Homo erectus and Homo ergaster roamed. Now, the sheer numbers of these hand axes shows that they can't have been made for butchering animals. And the plot really thickens when you realize that, unlike other pleistocene tools, the hand axes often exhibit no evidence of wear on their delicate blade edges. And some, in any event, are too big to use for butchery. Their symmetry, their attractive materials and, above all, their meticulous workmanship are simply quite beautiful to our eyes, even today.
So what were these ancient -- I mean, they're ancient, they're foreign, but they're at the same time somehow familiar. What were these artifacts for? The best available answer is that they were literally the earliest known works of art, practical tools transformed into captivating aesthetic objects, contemplated both for their elegant shape and their virtuoso craftsmanship. Hand axes mark an evolutionary advance in human history -- tools fashioned to function as what Darwinians call fitness signals -- that is to say, displays that are performances like the peacock's tail, except that, unlike hair and feathers, the hand axes are consciously cleverly crafted. Competently made hand axes indicated desirable personal qualities -- intelligence, fine motor control, planning ability, conscientiousness and sometimes access to rare materials. Over tens of thousands of generations, such skills increased the status of those who displayed them and gained a reproductive advantage over the less capable. You know, it's an old line, but it has been shown to work -- 'Why don't you come up to my cave, so I can show you my hand axes.'
Except, of course, what's interesting about this is that we can't be sure how that idea was conveyed, because the Homo erectus that made these objects did not have language. It's hard to grasp, but it's an incredible fact. This object was made by a hominid ancestor -- Homo erectus or Homo ergaster -- between 50 and 100,000 years before language. Stretching over a million years, the hand axe tradition is the longest artistic tradition in human and proto-human history. By the end of the hand axe epic, Homo sapiens -- as they were then called, finally -- were doubtless finding new ways to amuse and amaze each other by, who knows, telling jokes, storytelling, dancing, or hairstyling. Yes, hairstyling -- I insist on that.
For us moderns, virtuoso technique is used to create imaginary worlds in fiction and in movies, to express intense emotions with music, painting and dance. But still, one fundamental trait of the ancestral personality persists in our aesthetic cravings: the beauty we find in skilled performances. From Lascaux to the Louvre to Carnegie Hall, human beings have a permanent innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts. We find beauty in something done well.
So the next time you pass a jewelry shop window displaying a beautifully cut teardrop-shaped stone, don't be so sure it's just your culture telling you that that sparkling jewel is beautiful. Your distant ancestors loved that shape and found beauty in the skill needed to make it, even before they could put their love into words. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? No, it's deep in our minds. It's a gift, handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors. Our powerful reaction to images to the expression of emotion in art to the beauty of music to the night sky will be with us and our dscendants for as long as the human race exists.
(TED Talks, 2010)
[Professor Denis Dutton died of cancer on the 28 December 2010.]
"On San Francisco's Market Street last week, two somber-faced public-opinion 'pollsters' approached a young man, thrust a microphone in his face, and after a few minutes of earnest conversation asked: 'Would you be interested in helping future generations to fly?' When the young man said 'yes,' the pollsters asked: 'Well, then, would you let us graft a pair of chicken wings on your forehead?' The subject was dubious but the interviewers refused to give up. 'Well, how about just one wing?' they asked. 'It's absolutely painless, you know.' By the time the exasperated youth shouted: 'Get away from me, you crackpots,' it was too late. The dialogue was on tape, and the zany radio team of James Coyle and Malcome Sharpe had hooked another victim.
For the past eight months, Coyle and Sharpe have been roaming the streets of San Francisco looking for likely guinea pigs for their imaginative nonsense. So far, they have duped more than 3,500 San Franciscans into taking part in tape-recorded stunts broadcast a dozen times nightly over a KGO radio disk-jockey show. Combining some of the elements of 'Truth or Consequences' and 'Candid Camera,' Coyle and Sharpe have rapidly made themselves one of KGO's most popular features. Each week the pair gets more mail than any of the ABC station's other performers.
Coyle and Sharpe have, among other things, recruited a private army of 14,000 San Franciscans to invade Los Angeles to solve the smog problem; they have sold a clothing salesman on the notion of putting insects into the pockets of men's suits) to familiarize the buyers with entomology); they have tried to rent out the pigeons in Golden Gate Park at $1.50 an hour; they have asked people if they would permit cornflake advertisements to be printed in their eyeballs, and they once convinced a San Francisco businessman to give physical-fitness demonstrations on a pedestal in Union Square. The executive balked only after Coyle and Sharpe proposed thet he be attacked by a flock of trained birds 'to prove that people can exercise when under pressure.'"
(Newsweek, January 13 1964)