Deric Bownds

Chapter 5

Hominid Mind

We now have an outline of some of the major steps in the transitions from monkeys to apes and from apes to hominids, as well as some information on how their minds are distinctly different from ours. In this chapter we continue to trace the stages through which the minds of early hominids developed, approaching ever nearer the appearance of our own modern human variety. We will pick up the story at the stage of Homo erectus, approximately 2 million years ago, and then follow one model of the evolution of human intelligence up to the period before the invention of agriculture and cities. Over this time, hominids were evolving psychological mechanisms that are shared by all races of modern humans. Further, the advent of language was making possible the transmission of the rules and ideas of cultures, allowing adaptive behavioral changes to occur at a much faster rate than genetic evolution would permit. This brings us to modern human brains and minds, which were fully present by about 100,000 years ago. These modern brains and minds are the subject of Parts II and III of this book. The more recent shaping of our minds by the invention of writing and other complex social innovations is discussed in Part IV.

The Mimetic Intelligence of Early Hominids

At the time of the appearance of H. erectus, major changes were under way. More complex facial musculature suggests a richer range of emotional expression than the present-centered and nonreflective episodic minds of monkeys and apes could generate. This emotional expression was probably supported by increased complexity of both the phonetic (sounds or calls) and the prosodical (volume, pitch, tone, and emphasis) components of vocalization. Changes in the skull and jaw permitted the generation of more varied sounds. H. erectus had a larger brain, made more elaborate tools, used fire, had seasonal base camps, and spread out of Africa over Eurasia. Its culture mediated the transition from ape to human.

Merlin Donald, the psychologist whose ideas were mentioned in Chapter 4, uses the word "mimetic" to describe the intelligence of hominids at this stage of evolution and suggests that mimetic intelligence remains embedded in the modern human mind. 1 He believes this intelligence is similar to that seen in prelinguistic children, illiterate deaf-mutes, and patients seen in a clinical setting who have lost language but retained social skills and who communicate by mime. Mimetic intelligence is the kind of cognition needed to learn music, crafts, and sports---largely by imitation, without language. This stage of archaic hominid cognition would resemble the extra-linguistic features of the modern mind.

The ability to produce conscious, self-initiated, representational acts that are intentional but not linguistic is different from mimicry or imitation, for intentional representational acts are used to reenact, or present again, an event or relationship. This happens in games such as charades and is the basis of arts such as pantomime, ritual dance, and visual tableaux. A central feature is the modeling of social structure. Chimps learn only how to react to each individual in the larger group. Human children model the group structure, playing role-acting games. Group mimesis is what we call ritual. A single mimetic performance might include manual signals, postural attitudes, facial expressions, nonverbal vocalization, and gesture.



To have a feel for mimetic intelligence in your own experience, pause for a moment and imagine that you have suddenly lost the use of language---not only can you not hear and speak it, but you also cannot construct internal narrative sentences. That is, try to restrict your thinking to visual and mechanical images of the sort you might need, for example, to build a wall from stones. Internal words and sentences are not necessary, only images of the process and its goal. Now, feel the many ways in which you would still be able to communicate the process and goal through gesture and movement. In the same way try signaling that you are hungry, wish to go outside, want to meet someone, and so on.


Donald suggests that mime, play, games, skilled rehearsal, nonlinguistic gesticulation, tool making, other instrumental skills, and many other expressive devices used in social control are products of the mimetic system as it continuously models the episodic world. This system is an elaboration, or summary, of episodic experience dealing with skills, social roles, and emotional events. It is a distinctive hominid invention, a kind of cognition that is distinguishable from language even in modern humans. A simple drawing can be used to illustrate the idea that mimetic mind orders and encapsulates the outputs of episodic mind (see Figure 5-1).

Figure 5-1

This drawing illustrates the idea that mimetic intelligence is built by collecting isolated chunks of episodic, present-centered information, indicated by the lines on the left, into sequences of meaningful activity such as a set of instructions on how to do something. Thus each mimetic routine, indicated by the lines on the right, encapsulates a series of isolated actions that have not previously been linked together.

The emphasis here is on mimetic intelligence as antedating verbal linguistic abilities, but we cannot rule out the possibility that the two underwent a slow and continuous evolution alongside each other. Whichever interpretation is correct, there is abundant evidence that sophisticated conscious concepts can exist without language. Adult humans who have been without language can describe a rich mental life after they have learned language. Most word learning is attaching words to preexisting concepts, objects, actions, collections, and social institutions. Deaf people who have been isolated and have not learned sign language exhibit advanced spatial knowledge and skills, can handle money, and can pantomime narratives. In patients with brain lesions that disrupt language, mimetic skill usually survives, and doctor and patient can communicate by sign or body language. Destruction of mimetic abilities always takes language with it, and such patients are much more out of touch with human reality.



Sophisticated conscious concepts can exist without language. Adult humans who have been without language seem indistinguishable in many of their cognitive skills from adults with language.


Kinesic Communication

The mimetic intelligence we have been describing underlies our body language, the nonverbal communication that is signaled by kinetic motions---the kinesic communication---of our faces or limbs. This usually has emotional significance, as when we open up our faces to communicate affection or contract them if we are rejecting someone. These gestures, along with many others, recur across cultures. 2 We join company with other higher vertebrates in using nonverbal communication to model and set social roles. Detailed time-lapse movies can be analyzed to document the fact that this nonverbal communication proceeds in many parallel channels. Our mimetic exchanges usually occur within a larger framework that includes linguistic expression, but words don't necessarily alter the nonverbal elements of the exchange. Language can carry on in parallel, without disturbing the fabric of spontaneous mimetic communication (see the accompanying self-experiment). Different parts of our bodies, different movement patterns, are essentially organs of social behavior. Social status is regulated by confidence, age, size, and sex. (Is your chest puffed up or collapsed? Is your pelvis thrust forward or pulled back?) Posture signals social rank, sexual attractiveness, and emotional support. The signaling of social status by body carriage reaches its most complex development in our species. For humans, as well as other social vertebrates, an individual's relations with other members of the population is a central factor in determining that individual's survival and reproduction. 3



You are aware of parallel channels of communication from your own experience, especially when verbal and nonverbal messages conflict. 4 As an exercise, pretend that you are delivering the following mixed messages (parentheses indicate the physical action that is occurring while the preceding words are spoken).

I'd like to know you better (drawing back).

I don't want to intrude on your space (moving forward).

I really am happy to be here (looking apprehensive).

I don't understand why people never approach me (frown).

People are always trying to take advantage of me (with seductive look).

I don't want to tell you what to do (with commanding voice).


Social Cohesion and Body Language

An overriding controller of our movement is our social self-image. It is decisive in determining the most intimate details of how we move in public. Get up from reading this book for a moment and move about as though you were a person of the opposite gender. If you are a man, imagine yourself moving as a woman, and vice versa. How does it feel? The point here is that you carry your body in only one of many different possible configurations, which are all indicative of social status and role. We can become conscious of these configurations and can deliberately change them, but usually they are unconscious, regulated by nonverbal social cues. The postures we assume are emergent properties of our social group---of a sort of "group mind." The complex and varied personalities that we act out require distinctive holding patterns of postural muscles, as well as characteristic individual configurations of our neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous systems.

We are programmed by our kinesic context. Are you aware, in yourself, of the moments when you are imitating the expression on a face you are looking at? This is a universal human tendency. Synchronization of mood is crucial to smooth interaction, and it involves the linking and orchestration of physical movements. The next time you are listening sympathetically to someone else, note what happens if you suddenly stop the subtle motions of your body or face whose rhythm is matching the speaker's. We all tend to seek feedback, and the company of others, that confirms either our current mood or the mood we have a disposition to be in. 5



We nonverbally transmit moods as though they were viruses, and some people are more likely to be senders, and others receivers. Have you ever noticed yourself imitating the expression on a face you are looking at?


To be a member of a group you must mimic its behaviors, whether you are a seagull or a human. Carried to an extreme by humans, complementary body language helps to define and cement the members of a group together. The stereotyped evolved behavior of laughter also reinforces group cohesion. Bonding, affiliative, and maternal behaviors are under the influence of hormonal and autonomic mechanisms just as hardwired as those that control fighting or fleeing. In many vertebrates they are enhanced by the hormone oxytocin and correlate with energy-restoring and energy-building activities of the parasympathetic nervous system. What we are dealing with here is an integrated ensemble of mind, body, and world.

Origins of Language

To continue our story of hominid evolution, we must now add language to these complex systems of emotional and kinesic communication. Think about the constant narrative within our heads. We use this narrative to communicate with ourselves and by vocalizing part of it, with others, but what is its origin? No one would claim at this point to have the definitive answer. It is hard, however, to observe the alarm calls of the vervet monkey---different calls for eagles, for snakes, or for leopards---or the body language and calls of chimpanzees without imagining them as signals that might come under voluntary cortical control and that are strung together in sequences to describe more complex events.

Language excels at organizing categories in our natural and social world, even if it is not very good at conveying the types of information that faces, smells, and emotions are able to convey. Although there is evidence that a sudden flowering of language occurred around 50,000 years ago, this may well have been preceded by a long, slow adaptive evolution of brain mechanisms underlying speech generation and comprehension. Language mechanisms in australopithecines and in H. erectus may have been much more sophisticated than we suppose from their simple stone tools.

The postulated base we are building on is the episodic intelligence of the monkeys and apes (see Chapter 4) and the mimetic intelligence of early hominids. In the former, current aspects of the environment appear to control what an animal does next; there is no thinking about long-term projects. Decisions to fight, flee, feed, mate, or just scan the environment appear to be based on a present-centered reality. The later stage we call mimetic intelligence adds the more extended communication of social procedure and rituals. Language may have originated from oral reinforcement of symbolic gestures used in communication, such as the facial expressions that signal anger, sadness, puzzlement, derision, and disapproval, as well as the body gestures of shrugging shoulders, waving, clenching the fist, and the like. 6 Linguistic and mimetic pathways could thus have developed in parallel, the linguistic pathway enriching and reinforcing the mimetic, even though it is possible to dissociate them (as in the foregoing self-experiment). 7



The cognitive changes underlying language did not necessarily develop to support spoken language as we now experience it, because there would have been no language acquisition support system. 8 The words and symbols of language probably originated outside of language, with symbols initially invented for nonlinguistic purposes.


Internal Narrative

How, then, might spoken language have arisen from the sets of 20--50 vocal signals that we see in some social primates? The philosopher Daniel Dennett speculated that an early step may have occurred when vocalizations that were used to share information ("tiger coming," "no food here,") began to be used for communication by an individual with itself as well as for communication between individuals. An example might be "Food here?"---a question that was originally addressed to others but then began to be asked by the individual in isolation, talking to itself. 9 Perhaps a system that evolved for communication with other individuals---your mouth speaks, other ears listen, others speak, you listen---could change into communication within the individual: speaking and listening to oneself (Figure 5-2). The virtues of talking very quietly to oneself and then silently answering, would be recognized. The loop of self-stimulation would be maintained, but the peripheral vocalization and audition portions would be dropped because they weren't contributing much. "Talking to oneself" aloud would be slow and laborious, compared to the swift unconscious cognitive processes it was based on, because it had to make use of large tracts of nervous system designed for other purposes---in particular for the production and comprehension of audible speech. Furthermore, it would be just as linear (limited to one topic at a time) as the social communication it evolved from. The idea of inventing new paths of internal communication is quite reasonable and is observed clinically in human patients with brain damage. The damaged area is not repaired, but new ways of performing the necessary tricks are discovered.

Figure 5-2

Dennett speculates that the activities of speaking and hearing, which originated in one individual's to signaling another (A), might have then proved useful to individuals in isolation, first as they spoke aloud and listened to themselves (B), and then as they developed internal brain pathways that could accomplish this without peripheral vocalization and audition (C).

Language as an Adaptation

Perhaps the most influential hypothesis is that language is an adaptation that developed because it supported the distinctions that need to be made in increasingly complex social organizations. 10 One possibility is that early hominid alliances based on grooming became impractical as the increasing amount of time spent on grooming in a complex society interfered with other activities. Language then evolved as a grooming substitute. 11 Kinship, marriage, and lineage tracing certainly became much more complex in the transition from primate to hominid cultures. Social institutions grew more formalized and were given names. Rather than language being a difference that gave rise to culture, the stages of its formation are more likely to have been an outgrowth of culture.

Social structures are made up of relationships based on learned information about other group members. Social status plays an important role in the organization of kinship and marriage in both nonhuman and human primates. Information about social relationships can be communicated with far greater precision with language than without, making it easier to distinguish among close kin, kin at some remove, and individuals in other lineages. Naming individuals and relationships can make it possible to articulate the rules of social interactions between clans.

Evolution of Brain Structures Supporting Language

What happened, in terms of brain circuitry, to support the appearance of a human competence so distinctively different from the vocalizations of other vertebrates? No other species, including apes, has mastered the process of language production, although some chimpanzees raised in captivity have shown a capacity to learn the meaning of some human words and the syntax of simple sentences. Animal communication systems fall into three classes. They can be the sort of random variation on a theme observed in birdsong, a continuous signal that indicates the magnitude of some variable (as when the liveliness of a worker bee's dance indicates to its hivemates the richness of a food source), or a set of calls in which each serves a discrete purpose, such as warning of the presence of a predator. The distinctively different feature of human language is that an infinite number of meanings are made possible by the combinatorial system called grammar. Thanks to grammar, the number of complex words or sentences in a language is unlimited. Discrete elements are arranged into combinations whose meaning derives from the meanings of their parts.



Hominid language is a distinctive feature of the cerebral cortex, whereas the vocal calls of primates and other animals are controlled by older neural structures in the brain stem and limbic system that generate emotional behaviors. These older structures also control human vocalizations other than language, such as laughing, sobbing, and shouting in surprise or pain. 12


In modern monkey brains we observe areas, presumably present in our common ancestor, that appear to be homologs of the Broca's and Wernicke's areas in humans, which are involved in the generation and comprehension of language, respectively. 13 The Broca's homolog is involved in movements of the face, mouth, tongue, and larynx; the Wernicke's homolog deals with sound sequences and vocal calls. As we saw in Chapter 4, cranial endocasts of Homo habilis fossil skulls indicate enlargement of these regions, 14 and some investigators think that the neural preconditions for language are first met in this species. 15 The most plausible idea is that these modules were slowly co-opted by other functions, or perhaps they were duplicated, with some of the duplicates taking on new inputs and outputs. In one of the several hominid species (H. habilis, H. erectus) that existed from 3 to 1 million years ago, an expansion or rearrangement of these brain areas would have permitted a transition from gestural and sound communication (mimetic intelligence) to phonemic language, in which the same sounds can be combined in different ways to make sound units (words) with different meanings. It has also been suggested that increases in the size of the frontal and parietal cortex, and the appearance of cerebellar structures unique to the human brain, are correlated with the development of language. 16 It is a pity that we cannot document stages in these transitions. Our soft hominid brains leave no fossil records of the sort we find for skulls.

Language and the Evolutionary Tree

One might be tempted to phrase the question as "How did chimpanzee brains change into human brains with language?" but that approach is inappropriate. Implicitly, we would be assuming that evolution is like a ladder, with one species leading to the next. Rather, evolution is like a bush or tree, and the hominid evolutionary tree is a complex one with most of its branch points shrouded in mystery. Figure 5-3 depicts some of the origins, breaks, and branches in the hominid transitions discussed both in Chapter 4 and below. In the roughly 5 million years since our branch split from that of present-day chimpanzees, there have been 300,000--400,000 generations during which we could have evolved brain structures supporting a universal grammar while the chimps did not do so. The issue of whether "language" in chimps and that in humans have similarities is largely beside the point. Even if some chimps were taught to produce real signs and to group and order them consistently, this would not show that the human ability derived from the chimp's. The central point is that in the evolutionary tree, traits such as eyes, hands, and vocalizations have appeared several times on different branches, most of which did not lead to humans. Some of these animal adaptations, such as the Doppler radar used by bats and the celestial navigation capabilities of some migratory birds, rival human language in their sophistication and complexity.

Figure 5-3

Hominid evolution depicted as a "pagoda tree" in which each level diverges into regional branches. The clusters of hominids at each level are poorly understood. Archaic moderns include groups distinctive to Africa and Europe (they are sometimes referred to as Heidelbergs, the group from which Neanderthals arose) and groups distinctive to Asia (Mapas). Fully modern humans diverged from a Heidelberg population in eastern Africa. Adapted from Kingdon, Self-Made Man.

The Emergence of Modern Humans

What were hominids doing during the mimetic and linguistic transitions we have discussed? There is evidence of several waves of migration from Africa to the Eurasian continent over the past 1--2 million years. Archaic humans were firmly established in the Far East between 1 and 2 million years ago and in Europe no later than 700,000 years ago. An H. erectus site in Java has been dated to 1.8 million years ago. 17 The rest of the globe was populated much more recently (Australia 50,000 years ago, Siberia 20,000 years ago, the Americas 11,000 years ago, and the Pacific Islands 30,000--1500 years ago). 18

A controversial question has been whether H. erectus evolved into H. sapiens, or a separate line that became H. sapiens displaced H. erectus worldwide as it did the Neanderthals in Europe. Two main hypotheses have been proposed. One hypothesis argues for a multiregional evolution of humans whereby H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis, and other populations semi-independently became the modern races of H. sapiens, with some gene flow between them. 19 The other hypothesis contends that all modern humans derive from a small group of common ancestors that lived in Africa. These individuals evolved into the modern races of humans during their emigrations from Africa and displaced all other hominid lines. 20 The genetic evidence in favor of this second scenario is now very strong.



Compelling genetic evidence suggests that all modern humans derive from a small group of common ancestors that lived in Africa between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago.


Evidence for the out-of-Africa Hypotheses

The first data to point toward an African origin of all modern humans generated great excitement several years ago. It consisted of information on the genes of mitochondria, which are passed on to offspring almost exclusively by the mother. Such genes have higher mutation rates than nuclear genes, and the genetic distances between different human groups can be inferred from the number of mutations. Groups that have evolved independently of each other for a longer period of time should have accumulated greater numbers of different mutations. A computer algorithm was used to construct the most parsimonious sequence of changes that could have led to the genetic differences observed today. The first attempts at applying this algorithm suggested that mitochondrial DNA has been evolving for the longest time in Africa, with the ancestral lineage of all current DNAs traced to a single woman---the "mitochondrial Eve." 21 Many other women presumably lived at the same time, but their mitochondrial lineages simply went extinct; that is, at some point they no longer had any descendants in an unbroken female line. (Subsequent analyses have shown that the same data set is also consistent with multiple genealogies, so it really doesn't resolve the issue.)

A second line of evidence, however, has supported the idea that all modern humans derive from a common ancestor who lived 100,000 to 300,000 years ago. 22 A portion of the male Y chromosome (passed from father to son) contains the only genetic material besides mitochondrial DNA (passed from mother to daughter) that is inherited from just one parent and so is not recombined in ways that make it more difficult to reconstruct an evolutionary history. The fact that it shows very little variability across different races of modern humans suggests that modern H. sapiens could have descended from a small group of male ancestors who lived about 270,000 years ago. Another group of studies has now tackled nuclear DNA, focusing on a piece of chromosome 12, which has a great variety of patterns in sub-Saharan Africa, loses many patterns in Northeast Africa, and is dominated by just one type in the rest of the world. This evidence implies a series of small populations continually "budding off" from larger ones, losing variety as they go. 23 These data suggest an African origin, dating to approximately 100,000 years ago, for all non-African human populations. Studies on one site on the Y chromosome suggest also that it was carried back into Africa from Asia, such that migration occurred not only out of, but also back into, Africa. 24

Genetic and linguistic differences between modern humans have been used to construct family trees describing the radiation and diversification of current races of humans from an original African stock. 25 One branch separates African from all other populations; a second splits Europeans from the remainder of the non-Africans, and the relationships among the Native Americans, East Asians, Australians, and Melanesians are controversial. Because genetic, migrational, and linguistic family trees are so controversial, any particular story seems to unravel within a few years. Most linguists believe that after 10,000 years, little trace of a language remains in its descendants, which would make it very unlikely that traces of the most recent ancestor of all contemporary languages could be found. 26

Co-evolution of Humans and Their Tools

The advent of tools caused the circumstances of hominids to be more and more "self-made," essentially turning us into artifacts of our own artifacts. 27 (H. erectus was making sharp stone flakes for cutting meat about 2 million years ago and bifacial stone tools about 1.4 million years ago.) The fundamental mechanism, termed the "Baldwin effect" after its discoverer, is that new procedures or behaviors that increase reproductive success are followed more slowly by evolved forms that support them. It seems likely that we adapted to new technology (fire and tools) both physically and psychologically. Thus cooking and processing food removed the need for massive jaws and allowed us to colonize colder parts of the world. 28 Similarly, boats made possible our migration to distant lands and islands.



Humans have become "tools of their tools," as slow, adaptive changes in body and brain design have supported new technologies and behaviors.


More sophisticated technology was presumably a major factor in Pleistocene population explosions that occurred in separate parts of the world. Africa's population increased rapidly approximately 80,000 years ago, whereas Europe's exploded about 40,000 years ago---a much later date. This coincides with a large leap in the sophistication of tools, and with the appearance of decorated artifacts and cave art. 29 One unsolved puzzle asks why the stocky Neanderthals, about 30 percent larger than modern humans, 30 coexisted with modern humans in Europe and the Middle East for over fifty thousand years and then disappeared. 31 (Recent analysis of DNA from Neanderthal fossil bones shows in fact that modern humans and Neanderthals evolved independently over a period of more than 500,000 years.) The supposition is that the Neanderthals must have lost some kind of evolutionary competition, perhaps as moderns developed more elaborate social systems or superior tools and better food procurement. The main challenge to survival faced by groups of humans during these periods was probably other groups of humans competing for the same resources.

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It is a curious fact that while different groups of humas had spread over virtually all of the globe by 10,000 years ago, their development from bands (containing dozens of individuals) through tribes (containing hundreds) and chiefdoms (thousands) to states (many thousands) was very different in different regions. The relatively more rapid development of Eurasian, and particularly western Eurasian, societies over the past several thousand years led to social structures and technologies that permitted them to subjugate most of the rest of the world by the end of the 19th century. Some have invoked racial (i.e. genetic) differences to explain by Europeans were conquering Africans in the 19th century, rather than vice versa. However, a far more plausible explanation is that fundamental differences in geography have made some regions of the world much more favorable for the development of societies ultimately able to support large armies with weapons based on metal working technology. Jared Diamond points out that the Eurasian land mass has provided a much larger number of plant and animal species amenable to domestication than other areas of the world. 32 The fact that much of this land mass is at the same latitude has permitted travel and a rapid diffusion of new plant and animal technologies that was not possible elsewhere. Food surpluses allowed the development of states with bureaucratic and military castes, along with sufficient resources to also support development of military technologies. Further, a consequence of the high population densities of the large cities that rose with the formation of states was that diseases spread much more easily, resulting in the rapid evolution of disease resistance in urban societies. Thus when Europeans spread to other regions of the globe, smallpox, measles, influenze, typhus, and other infectious diseases played as decisive a role as guns in decimating local populations.

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The Origins of Mythic Intelligence

The mind-tool of words permitted the evolution of language, the formulation of ideas, and the birth of a new kind of culture. 33 Donald suggests that just as mimetic cognition collected episodic event perception into more extended and instructive patterns, the next transition to an intelligence (which he terms mythic) collected the scattered repertoires of mimetic culture under the governance of integrative myth---a story of how things are (see Figure 5-4). 34

Figure 5-4

This drawing expands Figure 5-1 to the next proposed stage of hominid intelligence, the collection of sets of mimetic repertoires into the different continuous stories that are the foundation of a mythic intelligence supported by language.

Here we are talking about the middle Paleolithic, 200,000 to 40,000 years ago---the time of archaic H. sapiens. This is when the second major increase in brain size occurred and the vocal tract began to assume its modern form. The suggestion is that during this period, humans were all enveloped by a mythic participatory reality, without the sense of self and other that is characteristic of modern Western culture. We feel only vestiges of this today, as when we are overcome by powerful public emotions, such as patriotism or civic pride, during song or chanting.

Symbolic devices such as the vocabulary of a language supported mythic invention and the integration of shared knowledge. Thus the separate repertoires of mimetic culture were collected under the umbrella of integrative myth. Constructing histories of the past and models of the human universe required both symbolic invention and phonological adaptation. The story line of a myth could specify the proper places of plants, animals, humans, and tools in the natural order. A collective mind could be governed by myth, and it still is today in the arena of social values.

What Caused the Transition to Upper Paleolithic Culture?

Why does the archeological record show a relatively sudden appearance of artifacts and inventions long after the brain of H. sapiens had attained its present size? The really great leap in human tools and art didn't occur until 40,000 or 50,000 years ago---with spear throwers appearing before harpoons or bows and arrows, beads and pendants before cave painting. 35 During this period, the appearance of ornaments and images seems to signal the emergence of new forms of social organization. 36 Some suggest that this "big bang" of cultural activity and development correlates with a final gelling of language capabilities, as the anatomical basis for modern spoken language and complex vocabularies fell into place. Although most work has emphasized a European center (southwestern France) for this sudden flowering of human culture, more recent evidence from archeological sites in Africa suggests that advanced stone tools and blades were appearing in Africa as early as 240,000 years ago. 37 This evidence raises the possibility of a slower evolution, rather than a revolution, in human culture, tools, and language.

Evolutionary Psychology---The Search for a Universal Mind

The story we have told so far is now being viewed from a new perspective---one that many believe may be affecting our thinking about ourselves as profoundly as the Freudian revolution did toward the beginning of this century. The newly emerging field of evolutionary psychology claims to describe and explain human behavior in a fundamentally new way. 38 Instead of Freud's picture of the mind as a bunch of squabbling persons---conscious versus unconscious, superego versus ego versus id---it postulates a complex array of behavioral modules evolved as adaptations to our Paleolithic ancestral environment, modules that all modern humans share. We will review some of the background for this model, keeping in mind that it is highly controversial. Information presented in several subsequent chapters of this book in fact argues against it, so it is important to outline both sides of the debate.



Evolutionary psychologists picture the brain not as a general-purpose problem-solving machine but as something closer to a Swiss Army knife, a gadget that includes separate tools that evolved for specialized purposes. 39


A brief history of recent trends leading up to evolutionary psychology might be useful at this point. A number of books popular in the 1960s argued that we should look to sex, aggression, territoriality, pair bonding, or other socially evolved behaviors as the real mechanisms that determine the form of human society. 40 The authors of these books did not see the history of our ideas and institutions as an explanation of our current society but rather viewed them as the outcome of interactions between individuals determined by blind biological processes. All of these arguments were flawed, because each selected one aspect of what it assumed to be the behavior of primitive humans and made that single aspect account for the whole of culture. And the "drives" that were postulated were often at variance with the facts.

The 1970s saw the appearance of sociobiology, defined by its proponent E.O. Wilson as "the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior." 41 Early sociobiological arguments frequently took contemporary human motivational terms such as "aggression," "sex," "dominance," and "caste" and assumed they were natural categories instead of mere projections of our fertile minds onto those of animals. Evolutionary psychologists, as the intellectual heirs of sociobiology, have maintained that early attempts at sociobiology tried to skip psychological mechanisms and assumed a link too direct between genes and complicated behaviors. Thus sociobiologists missed crucial causal links by ignoring how evolved psychological mechanisms, whether genetic or non-genetic, might play out in individuals and groups.

Genetic Arguments for an Evolved Psychology

Some core ideas in evolutionary theory suggest reasons why social modules of mind would have been a plausible evolutionary adaptation for humans. 42 A starting point was the realization that males and females face different situations in trying to pass their genes on to their offspring. For many animals, including humans, males can reproduce hundreds of times a year, females only once. Thus for a woman there is little (genetic) point in mating with multiple partners, but each new partner offers a man a chance to get more of his genes into the next generation. Women must sacrifice much more for reproduction than men do. Hence women's reproduction is best served by their being selective about sexual partners, judging the male's fitness and commitment and his potential to contribute to or invest in the offspring. Sexual selection thus works in two ways: Males evolve to compete for scarce female eggs, and females evolve to compete for scarce male investment. The idea is that in many species there is an evolutionary "arms race," wherein natural selection favors male brains that are good at deceiving females about their future devotion and female brains that are good at spotting deception. (One might call this the "sweet-talking" theory of evolution.)



In many species, males and females need to follow different strategies for getting their genes onto the next generation.


Comparative anthropological studies show a universal pattern of women being more selective about sex partners than men are, and men desiring sex with many partners. It appears that in all known cultures, women with unrestrained libidos are judged more harshly than comparable men. Thirty-seven different cultures have been documented in which males focus on younger mates (better able to produce babies), whereas women prefer older mates (better able to provide resources). 43 Most evolutionary psychologists would argue that it is implausible for all peoples to have arrived at these similar customs independently, without significant genetic encouragement and that it is unlikely that these behaviors were present for 200,000--500,000 years, before modern humans radiated out of Africa, and were transmitted purely by cultural means, without being extinguished in a single culture. 44

What other selection pressures might have acted on men and women to generate sexual differences in brain and behavior? One approach to understanding the factors that may have shaped human evolution during the Paleolithic is to observe existing hunter-gatherer societies. Men generally are responsible for foraging over long distances and for the construction of weapons used in war. Women specialize in food gathering near the camp, making clothing, caring for children, and preparing the food. In men this division of labor might lead to selection for long-distance route-finding ability and targeting skills. In women it might favor short-range navigation, perhaps using landmarks, fine motor capabilities, and subtle perceptual discriminations.

Some of the behavioral adaptations that were appropriate to conditions in the Paleolithic may be damaging to us today. All humans show dietary preferences for salt, fat, and sugar. These are important nutrients, and they are likely to have been very scarce in our ancestral environments, so unrestrained tastes for them would have been a useful adaptation. Now, however, they are so easy to obtain that many of us get sick from eating too much of them. 45 Also of dubious value in modern times is the evolved behavior of male aggression, reflecting pressures of sexual selection common to most vertebrate species. Another vestige of our ancestral behavior in modern human society is the vertebrate male trait of raising the odds that his genes will be passed on by having not just a spouse or mate, but other partners as well. That these behaviors, both dietary and sexual, are "natural" does not excuse them; being predisposed to a certain behavior doesn't mean that the disposition should be indulged. Knowing we have such a predisposition does help, however, if we want to change our behavior. 46



The fact that natural selection gave the human brain mechanisms appropriate for action in the Paleolithic world is no guarantee that these mechanisms are still useful today.


Evolution of Cooperation

In the foregoing description, we have been following a gene-centered argument, which rationalizes evolutionary changes in terms of strategies used by our "selfish genes" (a term popularized by Richard Dawkins) to propagate themselves. A next step is to realize that it is not essential to pass on the genes that happen to be in one's own body, so long as copies of those genes are transmitted. They can be carried by close relatives whose reproduction one helps to ensure. Thus genes that enhanced cooperation between family members would be favored by natural selection. This process, referred to as kin selection, is found throughout the invertebrate and vertebrate phyla, and chemical cues are frequently used in recognizing one's kin. 47 Extended families---several generations living together---occur in about 3 percent of avian and mammalian species. Families that control high-quality resources are more stable over time, and that goes for an extended family of birds controlling a granary of seeds hidden in trees as well as for a human aristocracy with its hereditary land holdings. Poorer families tend to disintegrate over time, so their genes are more likely to be diluted. 48

For humans the kin selection mechanism may have given rise to the sympathy, empathy, compassion, and love that bond family members together. Further, this may have provided a platform for a further development: reciprocal altruism, or cooperation between genetically unrelated members of the same species. A series of careful mathematical arguments has demonstrated that the genes of groups of cooperating individuals should be passed on more successfully than those of groups whose members do not cooperate. Thus the appearance of genes that promoted the development of cooperative behaviors would be favored. Reciprocal altruism is fundamental to all human cultures and also in animal societies---especially chimpanzees---where individuals and their past deeds are recognized and recorded. Selection for behaviors that support cooperation could be an evolutionary force underlying the appearance of a sense of obligation, sensitivity to betrayal, friendship, enmity, sympathy, dislike, and gratitude. 49



Does the suggested origin of our more noble behaviors from our "selfish genes" mean that our selfless behaviors are really selfish---that we are being hypocrites? Not at all, the evolutionary origins of our motives must be distinguished from the motives themselves. 50


What evidence is there that any of these behaviors are modules of a "social mind" common to all humans? One line of support comes from brain lesion studies. Stroke or cancer in certain parts of the brain, especially the frontal lobes, appears to compromise social behaviors while leaving many other faculties intact. Some intriguing evidence also comes from psychological experiments showing that people are good at solving difficult logical puzzles when these are cast in the form of social exchange, particularly when the object is to find out whether someone is cheating. Is there a "cheater-detection" module among the mental organs that govern reciprocal altruism? Does a "group-forming module" enhance the capacity for identification with other people as parts of a unified hunting or working group, so that individuals make sacrifices for the group as a whole? To carry these ideas to their extreme, reciprocal altruism might be rephrased as the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Thus it may provide us with a predisposition toward moral behavior, just as each of us has, in the presence of other humans, a predisposition to learn a language.

A further element in building up a story line for evolved psychologies in humans rests on looking not at the origins of cooperation but at the consequences of competition. A wide variety of both vertebrates and invertebrates have dominance-subordination hierarchies. These result from compromises made by individuals in their competition for mates, food, and other resources. Status hierarchies achieve their ultimate sophistication in primate and human societies. Rank is signaled by a complex set of facial, vocal, gestural, and body language cues that function essentially as organs of social behavior. A significant part of the human male ego may result from the same forces that produced the stag's massive antlers: sexual competition among males.

It is fascinating, then, that human societies display two highly developed, and frequently conflicting, adaptations---competition (status hierarchies) and cooperation (reciprocal altruism). Think how much of your own conscious life is spent in these two arenas, considering what groups you belong to, what your status is, and whether to cooperate or compete. The fundamental argument here is that although different cultures show astonishing variation in the surface behaviors associated with either cooperation or status competition, the underlying modules of behavior are the consequence of a genetic and developmental environment that all humans share.



Think for a moment about the activities you engage in during a typical day. How many of them are colored by your sense of your relative status with respect to others and by the question of whether you will cooperate or compete with them? All social vertebrates face such choices.


Evidence from Cross-Cultural Studies

The preceding discussion has a very specific context for modern humans. We are all descendants of the humans who constituted the final successful radiation out of Africa that began approximately 200,000 years ago, replacing all other hominid groups. Our minds are adapted to the way of life of hunter-gatherers, not to modern circumstances such as the invention of agriculture, which occurred only within the last 10,000 years. Psychological solutions to problems faced by hunter-gatherers were crafted over the past 1--2 million years, not the past 10,000. A "bottom-up" approach to evolutionary psychology asks what these problems were (finding nutritious foods, finding a mate, avoiding predation, communicating with others, detecting cheating) and considers options for solving them. 51 In contrast, a "top-down" approach can be very useful in asking whether common motifs across cultures suggest universal mechanisms, 52 and it is to this approach that we turn next.



Using the idea of reverse engineering, one approach to understanding our brains is to find out what they were designed to do. It is the mechanisms that serve these purposes, and not necessarily expressed cultural behaviors, that we might expect to be universal.


A significant problem has been that anthropologists are generally rewarded when they find differences between cultures, not similarities. Many accounts of unusual behaviors have proved to be flawed, such as Margaret Mead's claims that Samoans had free sex. Also incorrect are claims that the Native American Hopi have a different concept of time, Trobriand islanders have a different notion of cause and effect, and the Inuits' proximity to snow makes them better able to distinguish more varieties of white than most of us, even though more words for varieties of "white" are used. 53 These misunderstandings have all been taken as evidence that fundamental categories of reality are not "in" the world but are imposed by culture. 54 An extreme is the view of many cultural anthropologists that science is just another culture to be studied, a culture that attempts a form of cognitive colonialism. 55 A vigorous debate exists in the American Anthropological Association and in many academic departments, between biological and cultural anthropologists. The biologists search for evolutionary and physiological bases for social behavior, while cultural investigators deconstruct cultural texts and tracts by applying postmodern criteria.

Listing and Evaluating Human Universals

Many candidates for universal human behaviors suggested by cultural studies are related to language: metaphor, narrative, poetry, myth, rituals, and words for units of time, body parts, plants and animals, kinship, logical relations (same, different, not, in, part/whole), and so on. Others are oriented more toward social structures, including such generalizations as "hierarchical social organization results in economic inequality," "labor is divided by sex and age," "male and female natures are different," and "men dominate the political sphere." We do not necessarily look for genes that dictate these traits; they do not have to be instincts or innate psychological tendencies. They are the result of complex interactions between developing humans brains and their social environments and are only abstractly related to a universal mind. 56



Comparative cultural studies have generated lists of human behaviors that seem to occur in all societies, and the evidence for a core set of behaviors is compelling. 57


Here is a list, offered by the psychologist Steven Pinker in his book The Language Instinct, of suggested instinctual modules, aside from language and perception, that might eventually pass the test of universality. 58

1. Intuitive mechanics: knowledge of the motions, forces, and deformations that objects undergo.

2. Intuitive biology: understanding of how plants and animals work.

3. Number.

4. Mental maps for large territories.

5. Habitat selection: seeking of safe, information-rich, productive environments, generally savannah-like.

6. Danger, including the emotions of fear and caution; phobias for stimuli such as heights, confinement, risky social encounters, and so on.

7. Food: what is good to eat.

8. Contamination, including the emotion of disgust, reactions to certain things that seem inherently disgusting, and intuitions about contagion and disease.

9. Monitoring of current well-being, including the emotions of happiness and sadness and the moods of contentment and restlessness.

10. Intuitive psychology: predicting other people's behavior from their beliefs and desires.

11. A mental Rolodex: a database of individuals, with blanks for kinship, status, or rank; history of exchange of favors; and inherent skills and strengths, plus criteria that rank the value of each trait.

12. Self-concept: gathering and organizing information about one's value to other people and packaging it for others.

13. Justice: sense of right, obligations, and deserts, including the emotions of anger and revenge.

14. Kinship, including nepotism and allocation of parenting effort.

15. Mating, including feelings of sexual attraction, love, and intentions of fidelity and desertion.

How do we begin to evaluate such a list of proposed universals? Among the varieties of human behaviors, there are some with clear genetic components (facial recognition and language generation) and some that seem much less likely to be genetically determined (the writing of language and the control of vehicles such as horses and airplanes). In between lies a large grey area populated by more or less plausible ideas like the "social function of intellect" hypothesis, which suggests that reasoning and thought (as opposed to learning and memory) evolved to hold human societies together (making their members more likely to survive), not for learning facts or skills. Cognitive psychology has turned up a number of interesting deviations from what would be ideal reasoning---deviations that would make sense if we had an innate predisposition to finding quick and dirty solutions to problems posed by the logic of social exchanges. 59 Unfortunately, plausibility is not enough, and we will have to wait some time for fundamental tests of the existence of instinctual or genetically influenced modules of social mind.

Some geneticists and developmental biologists are very critical of efforts to explain so many of our common behaviors as evolutionary adaptations, and they would quarrel with the amount of space devoted to the topic in this book. One of their points is that we cannot exclude the possibility that a given behavior arose not as an adaptation, but rather by accident. Testing the hypothesis that each of the universal behavioral modules---the naive early physics, biology, psychology, and so on---is a semi-independent adaptive module almost like a body part faces a problem. To understand where a body part (such as a heart, a kidney, or an opposable thumb) came from, we need to see how it varies or is shared by groups who descend from a common ancestor. The proposed "mind modules" of evolutionary psychology leave no fossils, they appear in only one instance (all modern humans), and there are no creatures that have more or fewer of these proposed modules of mind to compare ourselves with. Thus we simply can't know how they arose; we can only speculate.



A nagging problem is that any description of a modern behavior in terms of its presumed adaptive significance in the Paleolithic may be the equivalent of making up a "just so" story, for we have few means of proving the point.


Cognitive and developmental neuroscientists are still in the early stages of formulating and testing plausible theories of cellular mechanisms by which genetic instructions could be translated into "deception detectors" or other social modules. Perhaps the situation will be clearer when we understand better the brain circuits that underlie these behaviors. It does not seem unreasonable to suggest that genetically determined developmental programs of our brains incline us to learning social strategies influenced by the local social environment, just as the product of our language "instinct" is determined by the language spoken by individuals around us. The results have elements that are universal across known cultures. The fact that a behavior is universal does not imply some sort of direct link between a gene or genes and that behavior. All that is required of the genetic structures is that they allow the development of modules of behavior that form as human brains evolve in a social dialog with other humans as well as through interaction with the physical environment. That the result may be a module of social behavior present in all humans may attest to the uniformity of the developmental environment of those humans and not to genes directly establishing that behavior. Just as feral children raised by animals in the wild are unable to develop language, so they also presumably fail to develop the array of social modules of behavior suggested by the evolutionary psychologists. We will discuss of the roles of genes and environments further in Parts II and III of this book.

The Evolution of Ideas and Customs

In thinking about either universal minds or culturally specific minds, we need to consider the time scale over which the relevant processes are occurring. Until now, we have mainly emphasized genetic and evolutionary mechanisms that underlie both constancy and change between generations over many millennia. Body language and verbal communication introduce a vastly more rapid way of ensuring both constancy and change within cultures and a means by which cultures distinguish themselves from each other. Ideas and customs, in addition to our genes, can act as units of information transfer that regulate behavior and are passed from one generation to the next.

Students of animal behavior use the term "phenotypic cloning" to describe the process by which parents can so firmly impress behaviors on their offspring that the behaviors (phenotypes) seem to be inherited. (In spite of what we like to think, we all act remarkably like our parents as we grow older.) A core point is the argument that differences in behavioral styles between one family line and another provide a context for natural selection. The behaviors that work best are passed on because of differential reproductive success, and less adaptive behaviors are lost from the "phenotypic pool" analogous to the gene pool of genetics. This mechanism acts also at the level of cultures of humans and animals, and in this context it is termed group selection. Over longer periods of time, genetic changes in individuals that facilitate the adaptive behaviors adopted by a group might then be selected for. This is the Baldwin effect mentioned in the section "Co-evolution of Humans and Their Tools" and is a scenario offered by some evolutionary psychologists.



In humans and other animals, learned behaviors can be passed on as reliably and reproducibly as though the information were in the chromosomes.


Human cultural groups are adaptive responses, just as are birds' feathers and mammals' fur. They are vehicles of selection and have the effect of reducing the importance of differences in fitness between individuals within the group. 60 Groups of humans organize and defend themselves as though the groups were individual organisms, with homeostatic mechanisms and defense strategies. They have a sense of "I," with childish and adult components. 61 A fascinating array of adaptive and maladaptive behaviors have been cataloged by social psychologists. For instance, self-deception on the part of individuals, tribes, and nations is so pervasive that it is tempting to speculate that it has a biological ultimate cause---as though trying to do (or avoid) things that rationally shouldn't be done (or avoided) in some cases generates variation that accrues to the benefit of the species.

The Concept of Memes

To describe the propagation of cultural ideas, the biologist Richard Dawkins has used a genetic analogy and coined the term meme (rhymes with "cream"). Dawkins gives the opening four notes of Beethoven's Fifth symphony as one example of a meme. He also notes, as an example of a meme in animals, that in 1920s Britain, birds learned to open milk bottles on people's doorsteps. 62 A few titmice then learned that they could puncture the foil caps to drink, and this information was passed on to several other species. The philosopher Daniel Dennett points out that one of the first major steps a human brain takes in postnatal self-design is to provide an environment for specific cultural memes. It gets adjusted to the local conditions that matter the most---in a few years, it becomes a Swahili- or Japanese- or English-speaking brain. Newborns can form sounds characteristic of any language, but they begin to specialize in the language they hear and lose the ability to form "foreign" sounds. The idea is that once our brains have built the entrance and exit pathways for the vehicles of language, they swiftly become host to entities---the memes---that are mostly specific to different cultures and have evolved to thrive in just such a niche.



The term "meme" refers to a unit of cultural information that replicates itself reliably. The meme is a replicator, the cultural equivalent of the gene.


The evolution of memes such as creation myths could not begin until animal evolution had created species such as the advanced hominids, with brains that could provide for their shelter and habits of communication that could provide for their transmission. The access that individuals have to the ideas of their cultures (we don't have to reinvent the wheel) probably swamps most individual genetic differences in brain design, largely removing the advantage from those who are born slightly more inventive.

Evolution of Memes

Darwinian mechanisms are at work: There is variation (different ideas or concepts), replication (these ideas or concepts pass between humans via language and imitation), and differential fitness (passing on some ideas, like a warning signal, is more useful than transmitting others). However, in the world of memes the best ideas do not always win; accident, timing, and marketing may be more important. We persist, for example, in using the present-day typewriter keyboard, even though other designs are much more efficient. Memes, as replicators, propagate at blinding speed compared with the pace of gene evolution. Another important distinction is that memes do not have the clearly defined, independent nature of genes, so we can't quantify and analyze their transmission in the same manner. Another crucial distinction is that ideas are not passively replicated and transmitted. Instead, each individual or group passing them on can "add value," or creatively alter them, during transmission. The success of an idea is measured by the spread of its influence in the face of competing ideas. 63



The evolution of memes should be visualized not with the tree metaphor that we have used for the diversification of biological species, but rather as a joining, parting, and interconnecting of lineages---like the streams of a river delta running apart, and then sometimes back together, as they move toward the ocean.



The origins of our distinctly Homo sapiens intelligence, how it is that hominids came to develop the ability to use symbols and language, will always remain shrouded in uncertainty. We will never have a direct view of the brain anatomy and physiology of 2 million years ago. Still, some very strong clues suggest the progression of intelligences that is outlined in this chapter. The appearance of new facial muscles that we now use to communicate meaning and emotion, much more complex than those of chimpanzees, probably reflects the development of a new kind of mimetic hominid intelligence. This intelligence supported social interactions through more sophisticated emotional kinesic communication, incorporating complex facial expressions and other body language. As hominids developed skills and social structures that permitted them to migrate out of Africa over the rest of the globe, the intellectual challenge of coping with ever more complex environments and social interactions was met in part by the invention of symbol use and spoken language.

We are the descendants of a small group of modern humans that originated in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago and then moved out of Africa to displace all other contemporary hominids, including the Neanderthals in Europe and the Middle East and the remaining H. erectus in Asia. This restricted origin of modern humans lends support to the idea that an evolved "social mind" underlies a universal human nature---that in spite of the amazing diversity of human cultures, we do not start with a completely blank slate. Evolutionary psychology portrays us as influenced by universal psychological mechanisms that are adaptations to our ancestral environment---to our past as hunter-gatherers in Paleolithic Africa. The engine that has driven the blinding speed of modern human evolution has been the evolution of ideas and customs. Culture determines in part what our brains become, how they specialize during their development to perform particular skilled motor activities, devise languages, and engage in rituals. Our biology and our culture shape each other through a never-ending feedback loop that operates during individual development and is transmitted from generation to generation by teaching. These developmental processes that shape our individual and social selves are the subject of Part II of this book.

Questions for Thought

1. Hand axes that have two faces crafted to make a sharp cutting edge have been found at H. erectus sites dating back to about 1.5 million years ago. Try to list the different kinds of intelligence, such as the ability to plan ahead, that would be required for such a task. Can this list be described as a set of capabilities intermediate between those of modern apes and humans?

2. What evidence might you look for to develop further the idea that humans become tools of their own tools---that technologies such as spoken language or making spears facilitate adaptive supporting changes in brain and body structures?

3. Imagine that you have discovered a hidden mountain valley in Java in which a population of H. erectus has lived for the past million years, isolated from contact with all other hominids. Individuals communicate with sounds and gestures that bear no obvious relationship to modern language but are obviously much more complex than the communications used by modern apes. How would you go about determining whether this group had yet invented symbols, things that represent something else because of a relationship, convention, or resemblance.

4. The mating habits of humans that are observed across many cultures, such as the preference of younger women for older, financially secure male partners and the designation of symmetrical faces as "attractive," is taken by some as evidence for an evolved universal psychology in humans, strongly influenced by genetics. Can you think of other explanations? Devise experiments one could perform to evaluate the relative importance of innate biases and cultural instructions (including possible thought experiments that, for ethical reasons, you wouldn't actually carry out with real humans).

Suggestions for Further General Reading

The first three books deal with the origins of language.

Deacon, T.W. 1997. The Symbolic Species---The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain. New York. Norton.

Donald, M.D. 1991. Origins of the Modern Mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. This book is the source of the descriptions of mimetic and mythic intelligence presented in this chapter.

Pinker, S. 1994. The Language Instinct. New York: William Morrow. A number of points in this chapter are taken from this book, which is a sheer pleasure to read. Chapter 13 discusses human universals.

Dawkins,R. 1976. The Selfish Gene. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. An introduction to the gene-centered view of evolution that provides a basis for some of the ideas in evolutionary psychology; also an introduction to the idea of memes.

Kingdon, J. 1993. Self-Made Man---Human Evolution from Eden to Extinction? New York: Wiley. This book provides a detailed account of hominid evolution and is the source of the information in Figure 5-3.

Wright, R. 1994. The Moral Animal. New York: Pantheon Books. The description of evolutionary psychology in this chapter draws heavily on this stimulating introduction to the area.

Reading on More Advanced or Specialized Topics

Barkow, J.H., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. 1992. The Adapted Mind. New York: Oxford University Press. A series of essays on evolutionary psychology.

Brown, D.E. 1991. Human Universals. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. A more detailed presentation of potential universals in human behavior.

Sober, E., Wilson, D.S. 1994. Re-introducing group selection to the human behavioral sciences. Behavioral and. Brain Sciences. 17:585--608. This essay deals with groups of animals or humans as units of selection, arguing that the gene-centered view presented by Dawkins is too restricted.

Sperber, D. 1996. Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach. Oxford, England: Blackwell. A consideration of the evolution and epidemiology of cultural ideas.

1. The descriptions and points in these paragraphs are drawn largely from Donald, 1991, Ch 6.

2. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1989. This book is a massive encyclopedia of human ethology, describing parallel non-verbal (as well as verbal) communication.

3. R.D. Guthrie,1976, has written an engaging account of this material.

4. Scheflen,1972; Birdwhistell, 1972.

5. Goleman, 1991b; Goleman, 1991c.

6. Corballis, 1999, discusses how human language may have evolved from manual gestures, which survive today as a "behavioral fossil" coupled to speech.

7. Armstrong et al., 1995.

8. Bruner, 1986.

9. The material in this paragraph is taken from Dennett, 1991, Ch. 7, sections 4,5 and 6.

10. See Quiatt and Reynolds ,1993. Plotkin, 1994, Ch. 6, and Dennet, 1995, Ch. 13, also speculate on the origins of language.

11. Dunbar, 1996.

12. Pinker, 1994, pg 334. This book, The Language Instinct, is sheer pleasure to read. If you are going to do any further reading on the topics in this chapter I would suggest that you start with it.

13. Deacon, 1989.

14. Tobias, 1987.

15. Wilkins and Wakefield, 1995. This article in Behavioral and Brain Sciences is titled "Brain evolution and neurolinguistic preconditions." It is followed by numerous peer commentaries on the origins of language.

16. Leiner et al., 1993. This paper is followed by several commentaries on the possible role of the cerebellum in cognition and language.

17. Gibbons, 1994

18. See Diamond, 1992, Ch. 2, and Klein, 1993

19. Wills, 1993.

20. Paabo, 1995, Brookfield, 1994.

21. Wood, 1992 . Wilson and Cann, 1992 ,

22. Paabo, 1995.

23. Fischman, 1996.

24. Gibbons, 1997. More recent genetic studies suggest the picture is less clear, and the verdict is far from in on the "out of Africa" versus the multiregional hypothesis. See Pennisi, 1999.

25. Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994.

26. Pinker, 1994.

27. Kingdon, 1993. Gibson and Ingold, 1993, is a collection of essays on tools, language and cognition in human evolution. Roche et al., 1999, describe stone tools from a 2.3 million year old site that reveal that their makers had a good command of basic fracture mechanics.

28. One theory suggests that cooking, in particular the cooking of tubers, prompted the evolution of larger brains, smaller teeth, and modern limb proportions. See Pennisi, 1999.

29. Gibbons, 1993b. There is a vigorous debate over whether the symboloic behaviors characteristic of modern humans occurred appeared in an `explosion' about 40,000 years ago, or more slowly over the next 20,000 years. See Clark, 1999.

30. Ruff et al., 1997.

31. Recent analysis of the mitochondrial DNA fram Neanderthal fossil bones shows in fact that modern humans and Neanderthals evolved independently over a period of more than 500,000 years (Ward and Stringer, 1997.)

32. Diamond, J., 1997. Guns,Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York:Norton.

33. See Dennett, 1995, Ch. 13, for a discussion of words as mind-tools.

34. This section is taken from Donald, 1991, Chapter 7.

35. Diamond, 1992, pg. 50.

36. White, 1993

37. Gutin, 1995.

38. Horgan, 1995b, gives a useful summary of recent ideas in this area.

39. See Hirschfeld and Gelman, 1995, for a collection of articles on domain specificity in cognition and culture.

40. Examples of this approach are seens in the writings of robert Ardrey, Konrad Lorenz, and Desmond Morris.

41. This is the definition given by E.O. Wilson, 1975 .

42. A stimulating introduction to this area is provided by Wright's book The Moral Animal. The following account draws heavily from this work.

43. Buss, 1994. There is vigorous debate about these preferences. For an exchange on the significance of western men's preference for a low waist-to-hip ratio in women see Manning et al., 1999.

44. Wright, 1994, pg. 45. See Gould, 1997, for a critique of evolutionary psychology, which charges it proponents with making up untestable "just so" stories about adaptive origins of common human behaviors.

45. There has been a recent upsurge in interest in "Darwinian Medicine," that is, medical practice informed by evolutionary insight. A book by Nesse and Williams, 1995, covers this new area.

46. There is a valuable discussion of this and related points in Daniel Dennett, Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1984).

47. Pfennig and Sherman, 1995.

48. Emlen, 1995.

49. Wright, 1994, pg 202.

50. Pinker, 1994.

51. This approach is considered in the volume edited by Barkow, Cosmides and Tooby, 1992.

52. See Pinker, 1994, Ch. 13 and Brown, 1991.

53. But, see Davidoff, Davies, and Roberson, 1999, for studies on the influence of language on color categories which suggest that color categories might not be universal.

54. Pinker, 1994, Ch. 3.

55. Holden, 1993

56. Pinker, 1994, pg. 415. Chapter 13 of this book, titled Mind Design, is useful discussion of the nature/nurture debate.

57. Brown, 1991, Ch. 6.

58. Pinker, 1994, pg. 420. This list draws on the Barkow et al., 1992, volume.

59. Plotkin, 1993, pg. 190 ff.

60. Sober and Wilson, 1994.

61. Goleman, 1986.

62. The following material is mainly paraphrase of Dennett, 1991, pg. 199ff.

63. Sperber, 1996.

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