This paper explores the implications of evolutionary aesthetics for aesthetics as a normative venture. First, it develops the thesis that Aristotle's cognitive theory of metaphor can be explained historically as originating in the perception of human beauty, mate choice, and thus sexual selection. The Aristotelian principle, in accordance with which the wording of a metaphor must be ”strange, but not too strange” (that is, deviate from everyday language yet not be unintelligible or too weird) is, namely, mirrored in the biological theory of ”optimal outbreeding”, according to which humans and animals choose partners that are precisely ”different, but not too different”. We may surmise, then, that the idea of beauty has originally been transferred from the perception of bodily beauty to that of language. Second, however, on the basis of a discussion of Homer’s image of waves as ”the broad backs of the sea” it is argued that such an empirical explanation of the evolutionary origins of the perception of beauty does not affect aesthetics as a normative discipline.
2016. Vol. XL