David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Psychology 15 (2):173 – 184 (2002)
The significance of historical advances in human development has been widely debated within cognitive science. Steven Mithen's recent book, The prehistory of mind (London: Thames & Hudson, 1996), presents an archeologist's attempt to explain the details of cognitive development within the framework of modern anthropology and cognitive psychology. We argue that Mithen's attempt fails for a number of different reasons. The relationship between the archeological evidence he considers and his conclusions is problematic. We maintain that it is difficult to draw biological conclusions from strictly behavioral artifactual evidence. To buttress his claims, Mithen borrows heavily from the very cognitive science literature to which he hopes to contribute. As a consequence, his analysis of the archeological evidence cannot promote a particular cognitive theory, since his interpretation is only as strong as those theories from which he borrows. We are also concerned that the specific details of Mithen's program are equally problematic. Mithen's claim that modular intelligences did not exist outside of hominid evolution is likely false and unwarranted. As a consequence, we argue that the central component of his claim that the uniquely human feature of our development, the move from modular to fluid minds, depends on poorly defined distinctions between a wide range of mental processes. Whether we can accept Mithen's characterization of these claims will depend, we argue, on how he chooses to clarify these terms. We suggest that the various choices will be difficult to reconcile with his theory. Moreover, we suggest that the phenomena that Mithen hopes to explain in human development cannot be explained strictly in terms of analogical reasoning. We nevertheless find Mithen's attempt at answering these questions to be both a constructive and fascinating foray into what is an under-explored topic.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Jerry A. Fodor (2000). In Critical Condition: Polemical Essays on Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Mind. MIT Press.
Julian Jaynes (1976). The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Houghton Mifflin.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Brian J. Scholl & Alan M. Leslie (1999). Modularity, Development and "Theory of Mind". Mind and Language 14 (1):131-153.
Tobin Nellhaus (2004). From Embodiment to Agency: Cognitive Science, Critical Realism and Communication Frameworks. Journal of Critical Realism 3 (1):103-132.
Derek Browne (1996). Cognitive Versatility. Minds and Machines 6 (4):507-23.
Claudia Lorena García (2007). Cognitive Modularity, Biological Modularity and Evolvability. Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution and Cognition (KLI) 2 (1):62-73.
Michael K. Cundall (2006). Rethinking the Divide: Modules and Central Systems. Philosophia 34 (4):379-393.
Riccardo Viale, D. Andler & Lawrence A. Hirschfeld (eds.) (2006). Biological and Cultural Bases of Human Inference. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Celia Deane-Drummond (2009). Are Animals Moral? A Theological Appraisal of the Evolution of Vice and Virtue. Zygon 44 (4):932-950.
Steven Mithen (2000). Evolution of Mating Strategies: Evidence From the Fossil and Archaeological Records. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (4):615-616.
R. Arp (2006). The Environments of Our Hominin Ancestors, Tool-Usage, and Scenario Visualization. Biology and Philosophy 21 (1):95-117.
Robert Arp (2005). Scenario Visualization: One Explanation of Creative Problem Solving. Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (3):31-60.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads14 ( #114,562 of 1,101,748 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #178,613 of 1,101,748 )
How can I increase my downloads?