In The Artful Universe (OUP, 1995) John D. Barrow explored the close ties between our aesthetic appreciation and the basic nature of the Universe, challenging the commonly held view that our sense of beauty is entirely free and unfettered.
It looked at some of the unexpected ways in which the structure of the Universe, its laws, its environments, and above all its underlying mathematical structure imprints itself on our thoughts, our aesthetic preferences, and our views about the nature of things.
The exploration embraced topics such as perspective; the size of things and the origins of aesthetics; computer art (posing the question: is it art?); and the origins of our susceptibility to music.
Life sales of the hardback totalled just over 25,000 copies.
The study of the evolutionary and mathematical underpinnings of our aesthetic sense, and our understanding of the nature and scale of the universe has grown over the past decade, with developments in evolutionary psychology, and in cosmology. This paperback of the revised edition (OUP, 2005) contains eight new sections covering the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets, fashionable postmodernist rejection of science as uncovering objective reality, growing understanding of key ratios appearing in biological relationships, and studies of the underlying mathematical structure of a Pollock painting.