Landscape Of The Mind

Author: John F. Hoffecker
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 023151848X
Size: 53.23 MB
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John F. Hoffecker explores the origin and growth of the mind, drawing on information from the human fossil record, archaeology, and history. Hoffecker argues that, as an indirect result of bipedal locomotion, early humans developed a feedback relationship among their hands, brains, and tools, evolving the capacity to externalize thoughts in the form of shaped stone objects. When anatomically modern humans evolved a parallel capacity to externalize thought as symbolic language, individual brains within social groups were integrated into a neocortical internet, or super-brain, thus giving birth to the mind. Noting that archaeological traces of symbolism coincide with evidence for the ability to generate novel technology, Hoffecker contends that human creativity, as well as higher-order consciousness, is a product of the collective super-brain. Hoffecker equates the subsequent growth of the mind with human history, which began in Africa more than 50,000 years ago. As anatomically modern humans spread across the globe, adapting to a variety of climates and habitats, they redesigned themselves technologically and developed alternative realities via toolmaking, tool use, and artistic expression. Hoffecker connects the rise of civilization to a hierarchical reorganization of the super-brain, triggered by explosive population growth. According to him, subsequent history reflects the varying degrees to which rigid hierarchies of states and empires suppressed the creative powers of the mind, constraining the further accumulation of knowledge. The modern world emerged from the fragments of a collapsed empire after 1200 AD. In the final chapter, Hoffecker speculates on the possibility of artificial intelligence and a mind without biology.

Mortal Rituals

Author: Matt J. Rossano
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231535465
Size: 10.62 MB
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On December 21, 1972, sixteen young survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 were rescued after spending ten weeks stranded at the crash site of their plane, high in the remote Andes Mountains. The incident made international headlines and spawned several bestselling books, fueled partially by the fact that the young men had resorted to cannibalism to survive. Matt Rossano examines this story from an evolutionary perspective, weaving together findings and ideas from anthropology, psychology, religion, and cognitive science. He ties their story to our story, seeing in the mortal rituals of this ten-week struggle a reflection of the very essence of what it means to be human. During their ordeal, the Andes’ survivors (re)created a primitive yet complex social system embodying the efficiency and flexibility necessary to meet the challenges of a harsh environment. They broke “civilized” taboos to fend off starvation and abandoned “civilized” modes of thinking to maintain social unity and personal sanity. These young men established daily routines and rituals that perpetuated their survival while sustaining their morale. Finally, through the power of ritual, they accessed the mind’s ability to endure severe emotional and physical hardship. All of these essential strategies have deep evolutionary histories. They are what our ancestors did for millennia upon millennia in their struggle to survive.

Modern Humans

Author: John F. Hoffecker
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231543743
Size: 57.44 MB
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Modern Humans is about the most recent—and perhaps the most important—phase of human evolution: the appearance of anatomically modern people (Homo sapiens) in Africa less than a quarter of a million years ago and their subsequent spread throughout the world. Most of the features that render living human beings unique among all forms of life evolved or developed with Homo sapiens, and in Modern Humans, John F. Hoffecker argues that humans represent a “major transition” in evolution with respect to the storage, transmission, and translation of information, as well as a quantum leap in living-system complexity. Modern Humans synthesizes data from genetics (including the rapidly growing body of ancient DNA), the human fossil record, and archaeology relating to the African origins and global dispersal of anatomically modern people. The book begins by placing humans into the broad context of the evolution of life, emphasizing the fundamental role of genetic and nongenetic forms of information in living systems, and how changes in information are tied to “major transitions” in evolution. For more than a hundred thousand years, a diverse “near modern” human population, characterized by the retention of some archaic skeletal traits and possibly lacking the full suite of cognitive faculties found in living people, occupied the African continent and expanded briefly into the adjoining Arabian Peninsula and Levant. The immediate ancestors of all living maternal and paternal lineages possibly emerged from within this population, spreading initially throughout Africa before beginning a second—and ultimately global—dispersal no later than 60,000 years ago. The later chapters of this book recount their rapid expansion into southern Asia and Australia, northern Eurasia and Beringia, and throughout the Americas.

Thinking Big How The Evolution Of Social Life Shaped The Human Mind

Author: Robin Dunbar
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 0500772142
Size: 39.99 MB
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A closer look at genealogy, incorporating how biological, anthropological, and technical factors can influence human lives We are at a pivotal moment in understanding our remote ancestry and its implications for how we live today. The barriers to what we can know about our distant relatives have been falling as a result of scientific advance, such as decoding the genomes of humans and Neanderthals, and bringing together different perspectives to answer common questions. These collaborations have brought new knowledge and suggested fresh concepts to examine. The results have shaken the old certainties. The results are profound; not just for the study of the past but for appreciating why we conduct our social lives in ways, and at scales, that are familiar to all of us. But such basic familiarity raises a dilemma. When surrounded by the myriad technical and cultural innovations that support our global, urbanized lifestyles we can lose sight of the small social worlds we actually inhabit and that can be traced deep into our ancestry. So why do we need art, religion, music, kinship, myths, and all the other facets of our over-active imaginations if the reality of our effective social worlds is set by a limit of some one hundred and fifty partners (Dunbar’s number) made of family, friends, and useful acquaintances? How could such a social community lead to a city the size of London or a country as large as China? Do we really carry our hominin past into our human present? It is these small worlds, and the link they allow to the study of the past that forms the central point in this book.

Handbook Of Landscape Archaeology

Author: Bruno David
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1315427729
Size: 17.42 MB
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Over the past three decades, “landscape” has become an umbrella term to describe many different strands of archaeology. From the processualist study of settlement patterns to the phenomenologist’s experience of the natural world, from human impact on past environments to the environment’s impact on human thought, action, and interaction, the term has been used. In this volume, for the first time, over 80 archaeologists from three continents attempt a comprehensive definition of the ideas and practices of landscape archaeology, covering the theoretical and the practical, the research and conservation, and encasing the term in a global framework. As a basic reference volume for landscape archaeology, this volume will be the benchmark for decades to come. All royalties on this Handbook are donated to the World Archaeological Congress.

Crossing The Human Threshold

Author: Matt Pope
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1315439301
Size: 61.17 MB
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When was the human threshold crossed? What is the evidence for evolving humans and their emerging humanity? This volume explores in a global overview the archaeology of the Middle Pleistocene, 800,000 to 130,000 years ago when evidence for innovative cultural behaviour appeared. The evidence shows that the threshold was crossed slowly, by a variety of human ancestors, and was not confined to one part of the Old World. Crossing the Human Threshold examines the changing evidence during this period for the use of place, landscape and technology. It focuses on the emergence of persistent places, and associated developments in tool use, hunting strategies and the control of fire, represented across the Old World by deeply stratified cave sites. These include the most important sites for the archaeology of human origins in the Levant, South Africa, Asia and Europe, presented here as evidence for innovation in landscape-thinking during the Middle Pleistocene. The volume also examines persistence at open locales through a cutting-edge review of the archaeology of Northern France and England. Crossing the Human Threshold is for the worldwide community of students and researchers studying early hominins and human evolution. It presents new archaeological data. It frames the evidence within current debates to understand the differences and similarities between ourselves and our ancient ancestors.

Origins Of The Modern Mind

Author: Merlin Donald
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674644847
Size: 15.21 MB
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This bold and brilliant book asks the ultimate question of life sciences: How did the human mind acquire its incomparable power? Origins of the Modern Mind traces the evolution of human culture and cognition from primitive apes to the era of artificial intelligence, and presents an original theory of how the human mind evolved from its presymbolic form. Illustrated with line drawings.

A Mind So Rare

Author: Merlin Donald
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393323191
Size: 34.26 MB
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Presenting the cultural and neuronal forces that power our distinctively human modes of awareness, the author proposes that the human mind is a hybrid product of interweaving a super-complex form of matter (the brain) with an invisible symbolic web (culture) to form a cognitive network. Reprint. 11,500 first printing.

The Recursive Mind

Author: Michael C. Corballis
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400851491
Size: 35.76 MB
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The Recursive Mind challenges the commonly held notion that language is what makes us uniquely human. In this compelling book, Michael Corballis argues that what distinguishes us in the animal kingdom is our capacity for recursion: the ability to embed our thoughts within other thoughts. "I think, therefore I am," is an example of recursive thought, because the thinker has inserted himself into his thought. Recursion enables us to conceive of our own minds and the minds of others. It also gives us the power of mental "time travel"--the ability to insert past experiences, or imagined future ones, into present consciousness. Drawing on neuroscience, psychology, animal behavior, anthropology, and archaeology, Corballis demonstrates how these recursive structures led to the emergence of language and speech, which ultimately enabled us to share our thoughts, plan with others, and reshape our environment to better reflect our creative imaginations. He shows how the recursive mind was critical to survival in the harsh conditions of the Pleistocene epoch, and how it evolved to foster social cohesion. He traces how language itself adapted to recursive thinking, first through manual gestures, then later, with the emergence of Homo sapiens, vocally. Toolmaking and manufacture arose, and the application of recursive principles to these activities in turn led to the complexities of human civilization, the extinction of fellow large-brained hominins like the Neandertals, and our species' supremacy over the physical world. Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

Prehistory

Author: Colin Renfrew
Publisher: Random House Digital, Inc.
ISBN: 0812976614
Size: 78.40 MB
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In this invaluable, brief account of human development prior to the last four millennia, Colin Renfrew delivers a meticulously researched and passionately argued chronicle about our life on earth, and our ongoing quest to understand it.