ISBN-10:
0262621975
ISBN-13:
9780262621977
Pub. Date:
10/07/2005
Publisher:
MIT Press
Evolution and Culture: A Fyssen Foundation Symposium

Evolution and Culture: A Fyssen Foundation Symposium

by Stephen C. Levinson, Pierre Jaisson
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Overview

Biological and cultural processes have evolved together, in a symbiotic spiral; they are now indissolubly linked, with human survival unlikely without such culturally produced aids as clothing, cooked food, and tools. The twelve original essays collected in this volume take an evolutionary perspective on human culture, examining the emergence of culture in evolution and the underlying role of brain and cognition. The essay authors, all internationally prominent researchers in their fields, draw on the cognitive sciences—including linguistics, developmental psychology, and cognition—to develop conceptual and methodological tools for understanding the interaction of culture and genome. They go beyond the "how"—the questions of behavioral mechanisms—to address the "why"—the evolutionary origin of our psychological functioning. What was the "X-factor," the magic ingredient of culture—the element that took humans out of the general run of mammals and other highly social organisms?

Several essays identify specific behavioral and functional factors that could account for human culture, including the capacity for "mind reading" that underlies social and cultural learning and the nature of morality and inhibitions, while others emphasize multiple partially independent factors—planning, technology, learning, and language. The X-factor, these essays suggest, is a set of cognitive adaptations for culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262621977
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 10/07/2005
Series: A Bradford Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,015,781
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stephen C. Levinson is Director of the Language and Cognition Group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands.

Pierre Jaisson is Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Experimental and Comparative Ethology at the University of Paris-North in France.

Table of Contents

Series Forewordvii
Acknowledgmentsix
Preface: It was not there in the Big Bang, but...xi
1Introduction: The Evolution of Culture in a Microcosm1
IEmergence of Culture in Evolution43
2Quantum Leaps in Evolution45
3The Emergence of Culture in the Context of Hominin Evolutionary Patterns53
4Interactions of Culture and Natural Selection among Pleistocene Hunters79
5Solving the Puzzle of Human Cooperation105
6From Typo to Thinko: When Evolution Graduated to Semantic Norms133
7Conceptual Tools for a Naturalistic Approach to Cultural Evolution147
IIBrain, Cognition, and Evolution167
8Brains, Cognition, and the Evolution of Culture169
9The Evolution of Culture from a Neurobiological Perspective181
10Uniquely Human Cognition Is a Product of Human Culture203
11Moral Ingredients: How We Evolved the Capacity to Do the Right Thing219
12The Cultural and Evolutionary History of the Real Numbers247
13Why Animals Do Not Have Culture275
Contributors279
Index281

What People are Saying About This

Endorsement

I had long thought that the topic of function in biology was exhausted. Organisms and Artifacts, Tim Lewens' splendid new book, shows that I was quite wrong. Lewens unites a deep understanding of biology with a keen nose for a philosophical problem, and he has produced a work that is insightful and (just as important) highly interesting. This book will give an old problem really new life, and must be the starting point for all future discussion.

Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University

From the Publisher

Distinguished psychologists wrestle 'culture' away from the greedy grip of interpretive anthropologists and ask their own questions: What kind of evolved mind was needed to create and transmit culture? What impact does that transmitted culture exert on our evolved minds?

Anne Campbell , Professor of Psychology, Durham University, UK

This is a wonderful collection exploring the relationships between culture and evolutionary biology. It looks not only at issues concerning our evolutionary past, but also those relating to our social life today. There will be much discussion about the topics covered, and even those of us who disagree about parts will feel that we have benefited from the whole.

Michael Ruse , Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University

I had long thought that the topic of function in biology was exhausted. Organisms and Artifacts , Tim Lewens' splendid new book, shows that I was quite wrong. Lewens unites a deep understanding of biology with a keen nose for a philosophical problem, and he has produced a work that is insightful and (just as important) highly interesting. This book will give an old problem really new life, and must be the starting point for all future discussion.

Michael Ruse , Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University

Michael Ruse

I had long thought that the topic of function in biology was exhausted. Organisms and Artifacts, Tim Lewens' splendid new book, shows that I was quite wrong. Lewens unites a deep understanding of biology with a keen nose for a philosophical problem, and he has produced a work that is insightful and (just as important) highly interesting. This book will give an old problem really new life, and must be the starting point for all future discussion.

Anne Campbell

Distinguished psychologists wrestle 'culture' away from the greedy grip of interpretive anthropologists and ask their own questions: What kind of evolved mind was needed to create and transmit culture? What impact does that transmitted culture exert on our evolved minds?

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