Classifying neighbourhood
E M Forster in his novel Howards End ascribes to one of its main characters, Margaret Schlegel, a willingness to invest psychologically in the materials that empire makes available: she animates these objects with her own visions of homeland created by a combination of masculine grandeur and epic process of , just as later, after Henry's proposal, she will exclaim romantically over shares in a currant farm. But her swelling concern for the past, both personal and national, and its accumulation in the comforting things of everyday life, is also precisely what separates her and her sister Helen from the Wilcoxes, who care only for the accumulation of profits and the commerce of the future. "You see," says Helen to her cousin, the Wilcoxes collect houses as your Victor collects tadpoles. They have, one, Ducie Street; two, Howards End, where my great rumpus was; three, a country seat in Shropshire; four, Charles has a house in Hilton; and five, another near Epsom; and six, Eye will have a house when she marries, and probably a pied-a-terre in the country--which makes seven. Oh yes, and Paul a hut in Africa makes eight.
School children can often be heard complaining about the vast quantities of seemingly useless information that they are forced to memorise as part of their education.  Had they been the children of Stone Age hunters, they would have learned their lessons first hand, where the practical value in everyday life would have been obvious. Prehistoric people had to become masters of observation, with an acute knowledge of every plant and animal shape, colour, pattern, movement, sound and smell in so far as knowledge of these aspects of their environment enabled them to survive in a hostile world.  This urge to find memorable pattern and harmony in the environment is called taxophilia.  The human taxophilic imperative was so important that it evolved to become as basic and distinct as the need to feed, mate or sleep.  Originally our ancestors may have classified berries or antelopes as part of their food-finding activities.  In the abstract world of the modern classroom, botany can seem remote, geology boring, and entomology meaningless.  Yet despite these complaints, the taxophilic instinct remains as an urge to commit to memory huge assemblages of facts on topics that will hardly ever encounter a need in the future.   Information is not just simply accumulated; it is classified, particularly where there is a current social context, such as the latest football statistics, scores and titles of pop music, and the makes and dates of manufacture of motorcars.
The human brain functions as a magnificent classifying machine, and every time we walk through a landscape it is busy feeding in new experiences and comparing them with the old.  The brain classifies everything we see, and the survival value of this procedure is obvious. It is also the case with other mammals.  A monkey, for instance, has to know many different kinds of trees and bushes in its forest home, and needs to be able to tell which one has ripening fruit at any particular season, which is poisonous, and which is thorny.  If it is to survive, a monkey has to become a good botanist.  In the same way a lion has to become a first-rate zoologist, able to tell at a glance, which prey species it is, how fast it can run, and which escape pattern it is likely to use. 
Taxophilia is the basic behaviour of scientists. In biology it is dignified by the subject of taxonomy.  There are many case-histories of scientific achievements of individuals, such as Charles Darwin, who collected beetles and barnacles, where a sharp taxophilic skill correlates surprisingly with outstanding abilities for panoramic lateral thinking.Taxonomists have outstanding skills in observation and depiction to describe and communicate anatomical features that are of significance in placing individuals and body parts in unambiguous categories.  Their illustrations often have pleasing aesthetic qualities, and their early engravings are now collected as works of art. 
In this connection, it is the taxophilic urge that is at the root of our aesthetic behaviour.  There is no other biological way to account for the response of people who can be found standing silently in front of paintings in an art gallery, or sitting quietly listening to music, or watching dancing, or viewing sculpture, or gazing at garden flowers, or wandering through landscapes, or tasting wines.
Regarding those who collect art, a personal taxophilic theme has a door open onto human subcultures, where for a variety of reasons, it is possible to find a responsive set of like-minded patrons. Collectors are concerned with differentiated objects, which often have exchange value, which may also be objects of preservation, trade, social ritual, exhibition, and perhaps generators of profit.  Such objects, whether works of art or matchboxes, are accompanied by projects.  Though they remain interrelated in a personal collection, their interplay through selection and research involves the social world outside the collection and embraces human relationships.  Eventually, a collector may come to have high group status through a personal body of knowledge about the makers of his objects, which is greater than that of the maker.
It is true to say that virtually every human culture expresses itself artistically in some way or other; so the need to experience the satisfaction of discovering harmony in particular arrangements of forms, the beauty-reaction, cements strong social bonds between people. However, in the world of art there are no absolutes involved. Nothing is considered to be beautiful by all peoples everywhere. Every revered object is considered ugly by someone somewhere. From this perspective, beauty is put into the eye of the beholder by education, and comes from nowhere else.  The sense of beauty derives primarily from our subtle comparisons and classifications by which we harmonise set themes, as it did with natural objects of survival value.  However, the difference is that we select our art themes by personal choice.  Forms are chosen from past experiences, or taken second-hand from other artists, that have a potential for a complex set of variations.  Once this process of experimenting with forms wrested from nature is underway, the artist can then rapidly shift his themes further and further away from the natural starting point, until the themes employed become abstract and their purpose is to express a highly personal mental state.  It does seem that the more a set of forms departs from the common perception of reality, the more we respond, and commit it to memory through innate feelings for certain types and combinations of lines, planes and colour.  In other words, the ‘picture’ is perceived as a unique piece of decoration.  However, there is little research on this point.
Either way, whether staying close to imitated natural objects, or creating entirely novel abstracted compositions, the artist’s work is judged finally, not on any absolute values but on the basis of how ingeniously he manages to ring the changes on the themes he has already employed successfully, or that have been employed in acceptable ways by his predecessors.  The quality of the beauty will depend on how he manages to avoid the most obvious and clumsy of possible variations, and how he contrives to get his viewers to perceive daring, subtle, amusing or surprising variants of the theme without actually destroying it.  This is the true inventive nature of beauty, and it is a social game that human animals play with consummate skill both as artists and viewers.  The rewards of learning the taxonomic rules of a particular variation of the game are accessible to everyone.  The rules are based on arbitrary cannons, such as, which shapes and colours of dogs are accepted by the kennel club, which arrangements of flowers are prized by the flower- arranging society, which proportions of breasts, to waist, to hips win prizes in beauty contests, and which kinds of water colours the hanging committee of the local art club finds acceptable.  The rewards of playing the beauty game are social acceptance and personal status in a group of like-minded people.