(Forthcoming in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics)
Can we easily distinguish between what the scorpion does when it moults, and what we human beings do when we, say, sculpt, the human form in stone?
The most common means of distinguishing between the two sorts of production is that the human sculptings are representations of human forms, whereas moulted exoskeletons or shells are not representations, but rather the things themselves, or at least vestiges of the things. We all know that in fact the scorpion looks on its moulted exoskeleton with neither admiration nor disgust; it is in no sense a ‘work’ of the scorpion, any more than the shorn hair or nails of an artist are part of his or her oeuvre. The fact that the discarded shell retains the shape of the creature, while the discarded toenails do not, is irrelevant: it is bio-waste, chaff, slough. Nothing more.
Or is it? ...