I wanted to ask if people think that our sense of what is beautiful is biologically determined. Biologists have a convincing reason why we love people with attractive features. People with healthy bodies and attractive features signify that they are not carrying any genetic abnormality within them and hence when we are looking for a mate, our brain is genetically hardwired to go for the beautiful rather than the ugly. Recently I read somewhere (probably Steven Pinker's Blank Slate) a similar argument about beautiful pictures. It seems most of the people's ideal landscape painting/photograph is one where we can see green vegetation, a lake/river and docile animals like deers. The explanation advanced is that our ancestors in the hot African Savannah would have loved to be in a place with plenty water, no predators and easy prey abundant. So what do you think of this explanation? I am a great believer in the theory of evolution, but I am not sure if I buy this one. Do you think on the average in photo.net we really prefer pretty pictures with lakes and deers rather than other stuff? If preference for natural landscape is not genetic, do you think it will turn us on to see a picture of a nice three bedroom suburban home with a Volvo on the driveway? On a similar vein, do you think there is some physiological reason for the rule of thirds? Why is it that most of the time a bull's eye composition looks worse than the rule of thirds? Can compositional rules be explained in terms of more basic physiology or should we be just content to leave them as they are : innate preferences which do not need any explanations.