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How the human got his paintbrush

What can evolution tell us, if anything, about human achievements in the arts? Not as much as EO Wilson thinks

By Philip Ball   November 2017

Herman Kruyder painted this self portrait for a 1917 exhibition. Source: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Edward O Wilson, the octogenarian Harvard biologist and ethologist, is one of the most productive, broad-thinking and important scientists of the past century. The central question of his work is why animals do what they do, and how evolution has shaped their behaviour. His new book, The Origins of Creativity, seeks to draw lessons from that understanding about “the unique and defining trait of our species”: creativity, which he defines, not without controversy, as “the…

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