What good are the arts?
Three lively commentators on the arts Sarah Thornton, Denis Dutton and John Carey discuss its complexities, contradictions, and enduring attractions with Linda Tyler. John Carey's controversial book What Good Are the Arts? (2005) tackled a number of questions designed to agitate art-lovers:"What is a work of art? Is 'high art' superior? Can science help? Do the arts make us better? Can art be a religion?". Denis Dutton's The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution asks why we dedicate so much time, effort and resources to art when it seemingly does nothing to increase our chances of survival, and goes on to set out what Darwinian aesthetics can bring to our understanding of art. Despite having thrown herself into the vortex of the contemporary art world in the course of researching Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton continues to be fascinated by artists and amused by the world that supports them.