Blog 012, Theory of Aesthetic Mental Images.
Aesthetic mental images play a large part in an animal’s behaviour.
In 1911 Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell presents a Christmas Day Lecture at The Royal Institution, Sir Peter was a zoologist of great weight and is a very respect figure.
In his lecture he talked about a series of experiments he conducted, and latter demonstrated. An idea that had occurred to him while working at or rather running London Zoo, if young animals inherently feared predators snakes in particular, his results were interesting. He demonstrated at The Royal Institute that certain animals did and did not fear the snake. He brought a large live snake out and showed it to various animals to show how they react, A yellow – crested cockatoo amuses the audiences by apparently being terrified of a guinea pig but seemed unconcerned when the snake writhed towards it. The Indian Hill Mynah on the other hand is terrified, Chalmers expediently removes the snake and Mynah comes to the bars and looking rather unfazed.
Chalmers is convinced that the Mynah knows about the snake and to fear it regardless of the fact the Mynah has never encountered one before. Chalmers then shows the snake in succession to a lemur, a young capuchin monkey and a young baboon. The lemar shows no fear or concern this particular lemur was born in London zoo and had never seen a snake before and there are no poisonous snakes in the lemurs natural habitat. The capuchin and baboon on the other hand had extreme reactions, likewise are thought not to have seen a snake before. Both appear panic stricken by just the sight of the snake so it is again removed promptly. Dangerous snakes are native to both their habitats.
More recent studies in neurology also confirmed Charmlers conclusion that animals have inherent bias or fear of certain other animals that pose that particular animal a threat, particular nerves in a macaque’s brain when show pictures of a snake light up. It would appear that animals are born imprinted to fear certain things. As humans we too seems to be imprinted to fear certain things, such as death, snakes and spiders etc we’re also imprinted with traits so as to protect our young. Many such events of mothers of various species sacrifice to protect their offspring, humans are no different. It might be fair to say that this makes a strong argument for the concept of archetypes and our morality and more strikingly the evolutionary function of emotions!
It goes further I think, I want to ask the question what aesthetic image do we see before our eyes when we look at this contemporary world around us in 2021?