Written for all persons curious about the nature of art and its relationship to human society, "Of Birds, Beasts, and Other Artists" is a work that grapples with fundamental questions regarding the nature of spontaneity, creativity, tradition, and history, as Professor Scharfstein explores the idea of a universal cause by which all art is created. First analyzing the contemporary art scene, he shows us how self-consciousness and a need to attack tradition have overwhelmed our sense of perspective, leading us to ask. What is art? He analyzes next the biological basis of art, offering a discussion of the songs of brids, and the artwork of chimpanzees and children, showing how a sense of creativity precedes our human consciousness. This is a thoughtful essay on the nature of art as a basic human need, "a way of keeping the mind and senses alive", a part of what it means to be human.