Engagement Opportunity: Art, Evolution, and Action

In my previous post, I introduced the Prosocial Commons (PC) as a portal to learning more about and acting upon an evolutionary worldview. This post announces a specific engagement opportunity within the PC for those who are especially interested in the Arts from an evolutionary perspective. As outlined in more detail below, everyone with an interest in the subject is welcome to join, no matter what their current level of knowledge. This is not a pre-planned course. It will be an act of co-creation guided by tools that help groups become highly cooperative and adaptable. The project will take place in parallel with other projects that can be accessed on the PC website. See below for more information and I look forward to spending time with some of you on this fascinating and important topic!

Project Title: Arts, Evolution, and Action

Project Summary: Evolutionary science is in the process of “making sense” of all aspects of humanity, in addition to the biological world. This includes activities associated with the Arts, such as storytelling, singing, dancing, and visual enhancements of all sorts.

Superficially, these activities are puzzling from an evolutionary perspective because they appear to lack utility. It’s easy to understand why we walk, talk, and make utensils such as bowls, but why do we dance, sing, and decorate bowls? It’s easy to understand why we talk about factual matters, but why do we make up stories about people that don’t actually exist and events that didn’t actually happen?

Despite appearances, these activities have immense “secular utility”, as Emile Durkheim wisely observed for the study of religion in the early 20th century.  Recognizing the “secular utility” of the Arts has profound consequences—for the academic study of the Arts, for the essential role of the Arts in K-12 and higher education, and for the essential role of the Arts in stewarding cultural evolution in the real world.

Provisional Goals (which will be refined by the group): This project will provide a learning journey for its members with three objectives in mind.

1) To understand the nature of the Arts as a product of genetic and cultural evolution. This pertains to the academic study of the Arts.

2) To understand how the Arts can be incorporated into real-world change efforts, including (but not restricted) to projects being carried out by Prosocial World.
3) To assemble material so that our own learning journey can be repeated on a regular basis and develop in a cumulative fashion.

Because this will be a co-created experience, there will not be a pre-set agenda. Instead, we will get to know each other during the beginning of the 12-week period, as we are learning the basic tools of Prosocial, and formulate our agenda for the remaining eight weeks.

Project Lead(s): David Sloan Wilson

Membership Criteria: This group is expected to be diverse.

  • Some members will be acting in the capacity of students, learning about the subject for the first time.
  • Other members will be acting in the capacity of teachers, with knowledge to share with others.
  • Other members will be acting in the capacity of practitioners, with experience in using the arts in real-world change efforts.
  • Many individuals will be functioning in all three capacities in different contexts! The most important point is for you to feel that you belong, no matter what you are bringing with you to the group.

 Group Size Range: Because this project is designed to be taken to scale, there will be no limit on group size. If we are fortunate to have large numbers, we will organize into sub-groups to preserve a small-group experience.

Commitment of group members: Starting April 18, 2022 for a twelve-week period.

  • Attend one 1-hr meeting per week.
  • One hour of preparation for each meeting.
  • Notify the group if you are unable to make this commitment on a given week (realizing that everyone is busy).

Joining the Prosocial Commons. This project is being incubated within the Prosocial Commons (PC), a new support and engagement group for advancing the mission of Prosocial World. Joining the Prosocial Commons requires a financial donation, which can be in any amount and therefore should not pose a barrier to participation. Also, exemptions are possible for anyone who is truly unable to pay anything. Please contact hello@prosocial.world to discuss the need for an exemption. Go here to donate and you will quickly receive more information about the Prosocial Commons and how to join this and other projects.

Related Projects. Other projects will be taking place in parallel with this one during the 12-week generation of activity. One especially relevant project will work toward the creation of a global online evolutionary studies (EvoS) program with campus chapters. Another project will focus on philosophy from an evolutionary perspective. Joining the PC will provide access to these and other projects.