This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/the-aesthetic-brain-book-review
Thank you for this book review, very interesting and well put.
Although I have no issue with the idea that early hominids originally spread out from Africa, I find that the savannah hypothesis as applied to preferences in art (especially as described in “The Art Instinct” by Denis Dutton) is fairly implausible. It seems like a very strained and thin argument to claim that preference for certain types of landscapes arose because those landscapes were beneficial for survival and the like. Considering that humanity has spread across the globe into all sorts of landscapes, a preference for African Savannah would actually be counter-productive for survival in a lot of places and it really wouldn’t make sense that these particular artistic preferences survived as a sort of atavism if landscape preferences really do play such and important part in survival. The studies that apparently showed that young children preferred African savannah landscapes over others were really not very convincing.
I think a much better argument for artistic preference could be made on the basis of cultural and social trends than some sort of innate biological mechanisms.