Nature beauty

Nature beauty
Nature beauty

When we see something beautiful, our brain releases endorphins. The famous biologist Alexander Markov discusses the nature of the feeling of beauty.

Angelina Jolie

When we see something beautiful, neurons in our brain release endorphins, and we experience pleasure. But why? The famous Russian biologist and popularizer of science Alexander Markov discusses this in his book "Human Evolution: Monkeys, Bones and Genes".

Our sense of beauty is a very complex phenomenon that is made up of many different factors. For example, we consider the human body beautiful if it, on an instinctive level, testifies to us about the qualitative gene pool of a given individual: "A beautiful woman will give birth to strong and healthy children." Those who did not like "beautiful" external signs - chose for themselves "ugly" (read - sick, not strong enough, not fertile, weak, not hardy, etc.) partners, their offspring were weaker or were not born at all, and therefore such people were eliminated by sexual selection, and with them the genes of "misunderstanding of beauty" and "bad taste."

Symmetry is a very reliable indicator of fitness for both humans and other animals. The more symmetrical the body and face, the, as a rule, the healthier, stronger the individual, the fewer harmful mutations in his genome. Symmetry is generally the most important factor that determines whether a person is beautiful or not, as evidenced by numerous experiments. This is probably why we like objects of the correct shape, and we consider them beautiful, and especially if their symmetry is skillful enough, complex and slightly imperfect - for example, snowflakes. And it is precisely symmetry that, of course, is one of the main motives of the visual arts.

Interestingly, the love for everything symmetrical probably goes back to time immemorial. One can think of this by looking at the shape of the Acheulean choppers - bifaces. Paleolithic people spent so much time and effort to give them the correct, symmetrical shape! For what? After all, the knife can be anything - it would have a sharp tip and a cutting edge. The shape of the bifaces is similar to the fangs of predators, maybe they were their prototype? However, canines tend to be curved. The ancient masters made them straight, with the correct bilateral symmetry. Some researchers suggest that the symmetrical shapes of Acheulean choppers at one time served as a kind of "fitness indicator" for erectus and Heidelberts, so they could even be supported by sexual selection.

There is another concept in the theory of evolution, which helps to understand why we have a sense of beauty. It is called the idea of ​​"sensory displacement" or "sensory drive". A living being, first of all, needs to survive and leave offspring, so our perception should be selective - most quickly it should select from the surrounding world the information that we need for survival and reproduction. If our perception were all-encompassing, objective and non-selective, it would require very large resources of our body and ultimately would be ineffective.

Alexander Markov: “” Reaction energy”is based on motivation, and motivation in animals is inseparable from emotions. If we want to manipulate the emotions of an animal (for example, a human), we should present him with such stimuli, to which his brain has adapted to react most violently in the course of evolution. "So, perhaps, that is why the wings of daytime butterflies are painted in such bright colors - after all, the eyes of butterflies over millions of years "tuned" to the perception of bright colors - a source of food, so if a potential marriage partner has dull wings, he simply will not notice it.

Interestingly, in order to maximize the impact on someone, it is enough to present him with the so-called overstimulus. To understand this, imagine that you are picking berries in the forest. After you've spent the whole day picking up a good bucket of lingonberries - what will you see first of all when you come home, lie down with rapture on the sofa and close your eyes? Of course, the same lingonberries! Moreover, the largest bush, with the largest and reddest berries, which, in fact, probably do not exist. This bush is the perfect image of the target that your eyes have been looking out for all day. “And he (the bush - NS) seems so real, so real that the psychological roots of idealism cease to look so incomprehensible,” Markov writes. Therefore, if someone suddenly wants to make the strongest impression on you at this moment, he should show you this particular lingonberry bush sprinkled with large berries.


That is why “Paleolithic Venuses” - many prehistoric statuettes of women with common features (many are depicted as obese, incredibly busty or pregnant), dating back to the Upper Paleolithic (about 40-12 thousand years ago) - are also “super-stimuli”. When a man from the Upper Paleolithic period looked at these figures, his brain secreted endorphins, oxytocin and other hormones. Of course, these same figures could serve some other role, they could, for example, be a symbol of fertility, but they did not cease to be super-stimuli from this.

And endorphins are also released when we are stressed or mildly frightened. “Perhaps that is why Paleolithic artists thought beautiful (and we also think) not only large herbivores - potential prey, a reminder of exciting hunting scenes - but also silhouettes of dangerous predators,” concludes Alexander Markov.

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