Ellen Dissanayake  

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"It was Ellen Dissanayake (1998) who first saw the connection between the Komar and Melamid paintings and prehistoric landscape tastes—yet another debt Darwinian aesthetics owes to her." --The Art Instinct

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Ellen Dissanayake (born Ellen Franzen), an independent scholar focusing on "the anthropological exploration of art and culture". She is the author of Homo Aestheticus.



  • What is Art For? (1988)
  • Homo Aestheticus (1992, 1995)
  • Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began (2000)


  • "Art as a human behavior: Toward an ethological view of art", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 38/4, 397-404. (1980)
  • "Aesthetic experience and human evolution", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 41/2, 145-55. (1982)
  • "Does art have selective value?" Empirical Studies of the Arts II, 1:35-49. (1984)
  • "Art for life’s sake", Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association 9/4, 169-178. (1992)
  • "Chimera, spandrel, or adaptation: Conceptualizing art in human evolution". Human Nature 6:2, 99-118. (1995)
  • "The pleasure and meaning of making", American Craft 55,2: 40-45. (1995)
  • "Reflecting on the past: Implications of prehistory and infancy for art therapy", ARTherapy 12, 1: 17-23. (1995)
  • "Darwin meets literary theory: Critical discussion", Philosophy and Literature 20:1, 229- 239. (1996)
  • "Komar and Melamid discover Pleistocene taste". Philosophy and Literature 22, 2: 486- 496. (1998)
  • "The beginnings of artful form", Surface Design Journal 22:2, 4-5. (1998)
  • "Aesthetic Incunabula", Philosophy and Literature 25:2, 335-346. (2001)
  • "Art in Global Context: An Evolutionary/Functionalist Perspective for the 21st Century", International Journal of Anthropology 18:4, 245-258. (2003)
  • "If music is the food of love, what about survival and reproductive success?", Musicae Scientiae, Special issue, 169-195. (2008)
  • "The Artification Hypothesis and Its Relevance to Cognitive Science, Evolutionary Aesthetics, and Neuroaesthetics", Cognitive Semiotics 5:148-173. (2008)
  • "The Deep Structure of Pleistocene Rock Art: The 'Artification Hypothesis'". Papers from IFRAO Congress, September 2010 – Symposium: Signs, symbols, myth, ideology… (Pre-Acts) http://www.ellendissanayake.com/publications/index.php#journals (2010)
  • "Doing Without the Ideology of Art", New Literary History, 42: 71–79. (2011)

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