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Life in terms of the nonliving. Universal animal preferences for mixtures of simple, more and less exciting psychological opposites.

A list of all the stories of thermoaesthetics so far, with links and brief descriptions.

Photo by Cesare Burei on Unsplash

Some things are universally more exciting to animals than their opposites. Light is more exciting than darkness, red coloration is more exciting than blue, everything is more exciting than nothing, and movement, speed, long flowing forms, spikiness, upwardness and outwardness are exciting relative to stillness, solid and round objects, smoothness, downwardness, inwardness and holes.

People are obsessed with the contradictory idea of a stimulating phenomenon inside a container.

Popular expressions show that, in the brain, learning is a fluid process and knowledge is like a solid. …

A universal bias is probably responsible for animals usually being colored so that their most dynamic body parts are darker and the static parts are brighter.

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

“Thus every one would probably agree with Lipps and call a pure yellow happy, a deep blue quiet and earnest, red passionate, violet wistful; would perhaps feel that orange partakes at once of the happiness of yellow and the passion of red, while green partakes of the happiness of yellow and the quiet of blue; and in general that the brighter and warmer tones are joyful and exciting, the darker and colder, more inward and restful.”

— Dewitt H. Parker, The Principles of Aesthetics (1920)

Marvelous Spatuletails
Vogelkop Superb Birds of Paradise
Western Parotias
Red-Capped Manakins

People are obsessed with the contradictory idea of a stimulating phenomenon inside a container.

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

“’He led me in among the secret things.
There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
Resounded through the air without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.
Languages diverse, horrible dialects,
Accents of anger, words of agony,
And voices high and hoarse, with sound of hands,
Made up a tumult that goes whirling on
For ever in that air for ever black,
Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breathes.”

— Dante Alighieri & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Divine Comedy (1893)

Exciting Things In Hell
Container Fluidity, Disorder, Motion and Multiplicity

Guppies choose mixtures of simple perceptual opposites such as bright and dark colors when they mate.

Photo by Pavaphon Supanantananont on Shutterstock

Habitat Interactions
Social Behavior
Sexual Selection
Male Competition
Direct Benefits
Good Genes
Sensory Bias
Works Cited

The Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata Peters, 1859) is a ray-finned fish in the cyprinodont family poeciliidae, Greek for “with different colors” (Froese and Pauly 2008). It’s also known as the “millions fish” or the “rainbow fish.” Males grow to a maximum size of about 3.5 cm, females to about 5 cm standard length. Guppies have no dorsal spines, seven to eight dorsal soft rays, no anal spines, and…

Humpbacks and humans like a mixture of order and randomness.

Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

“What an odd thing it is to see an entire species — billions of people — playing with, listening to, meaningless tonal patterns, occupied and preoccupied for much of their time by what they call ‘music.’”

— Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia (2008)

Regularity and Variation
Are humpback “songs” really songs?
What is the function of Humpback whale songs?
Music in Humans
Sensory Bias
Works Cited

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) songs, as part of their sexual allure, emphasize both regularity and variation at the same time and weave them together in intricate patterns of sound. These…

Prior to the evolution of the first living things the world was made of crystals, liquids and gasses. Life’s beginnings must have involved the transition of matter from these states to one of liquid crystallinity.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Some important events in the origin of life on Earth probably include the concentration of carbon, the formation of complex organic molecules, sorting of those molecules into chiral types, the evolution of sustained loops of chemical interactions, formation of a replicator, a coupling of this chemistry and replication to an energy source, the origination of liquid crystallinity, and possibly a transition from indistinct networks of living material into relatively individual, self-contained entities or cells. …

Animals prefer mixtures of length and roundness.

Photo by Mohamed Arif on Unsplash

“A death’s-head!” echoed Legrand — “Oh — yes — well, it has something of that appearance upon paper, no doubt. The two upper black spots look like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like a mouth — and then the shape of the whole is oval.”

— Edgar Allan Poe, The Gold Bug

Flowers, Fruits, Nuts and Eggs
Oblong Things in Animals
Elongated Cultural Things
Sensory Bias Versus Adaptation
Aesthetic Interactions
Works Cited

A universal sensory bias favoring oblong things is probably responsible for human and animal decorations being, very often…

Experiments show we recognize imperceivable dualities and opposites, such as blue versus hot and red versus cold. We identify more closely with a hot blue object than a hot red one and a cold red object more than a cold blue one.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

The hue heat hypothesis demonstrates how we consider certain qualities to be opposites even though we shouldn’t think of them as opposites based on experience, and how it can influence our behavior:

“The Hue Heat Hypothesis (HHH) is based on the idea that light and colours of the environment can affect thermal perception and influence thermal comfort. Specifically, it states that, when spectral power distribution of light reaching an observer’s eye is characterized by long wavelengths in the visible spectrum, the space is perceived as warmer; conversely, when small wavelengths are predominant, the space is perceived as cooler (Bellia et…

General sensory biases selecting for mixtures of upwardness with darkness and downwardness with brightness in bodies are the most likely explanation for widespread dorsal darkness and ventral brightness in animals, rather than differential survival and countershading or obliteration.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

“Animals are painted by nature, darkest on those parts which tend to be most lighted by the sky’s light, and vice versa.”

— Thayer (1896)

Universal biases favoring the perceptual mixtures dynamic — dark and bright — static appear to be responsible, via mate choice, for a widespread pattern in bird and other animal coloration in which dynamic body parts are darker than more static ones. Examples of numerous species with darker extremities, meaning such parts as wings, arms, legs, tails or long ornamental feathers or hair, or those which undergo the most dynamic motion from the perspective of another…

Popular expressions show that, in the brain, learning is a fluid process and knowledge is like a solid. Learning, novelty, lies and fantasy are more like heat, disorder, motion, upwardness, outwardness and length while knowledge, truth and reality are colder, orderly, still, down, inward and round.

Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

The spirit that I have seen

May be a devil; and the devil hath power

T’ assume a pleasing shape

​ — Shakespeare

That fantasy is elevated slightly excitement-wise above reality is detectable in how we employ the words “unreal,” “unbelievable” and “fantastic” to mark exciting moments or perceptual events even though the events inciting such exclamations are perfectly believable, just unexpected. Surprisingly many of the phrases we use regularly and collectively to describe learning, or changes in the material of the brain, directly implicate the specific, simple qualities heat, fluidity and disorder in the process. …


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