Humanevolution explains how we have found ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Issues of modern living; depression, obesity, and environmental destruction, can be understood in relation to our evolutionary past. This book shows how an awareness of this past and its relation to the present can help limit their impact on the future.
Contrary to chimpanzees and bonobos, humans display long-term exclusive relationships between males and females. Probably all human cultures have some kind of marriage system, apparently designed to protect these exclusive relationships and the resulting offspring in a potentially sexual competitive environment. Different hypotheses about the origin of human pair-bonds are compared and it is shown how they may refer to different phases of humanevolution.
In this controversial new book O'Hear takes a stand against the fashion for explaining human behavior in terms of evolution. He contends that while the theory of evolution is successful in explaining the development of the natural world in general, it is of limited value when applied to the human world. Because of our reflectiveness and our rationality we take on goals and ideals which cannot be justified in terms of survival-promotion or reproductive advantage. O'Hear examines (...) the nature of human self-consciousness, and argues that evolutionary theory cannot give a satisfactory account of such distinctive facets of human life as the quest for knowledge, moral sense, and the appreciation of beauty; in these we transcend our biological origins. It is our rationality that allows each of us to go beyond not only our biological but also our cultural inheritance: as the author says in the Preface, "we are prisoners neither of our genes nor of the ideas we encounter as we each make our personal and individual way through life.". (shrink)
Controlled fire use by early humans could have facilitated the evolution of human cooperation. Individuals with regular access to the benefits of domestic fire would have been at an advantage over those with limited or no access. However, a campfire would have been relatively costly for an individual to maintain and open to free riders. By cooperating, individuals could have reduced maintenance costs, minimized free riding and lessened the risk of being without fire. Cooperators were more likely to (...) survive and reproduce than uncooperative individuals because the former would have been better able to maximize a fire’s returns and enjoy regular access to its benefits. This is how the emergence of controlled fire use in Pleistocene human populations could have facilitated the evolution of cooperation. (shrink)
There are many ways that biological theory can inform ethical discussions of genetic engineering and biomedical enhancement. In this essay, we highlight some of these potential contributions, and along the way provide a synthetic overview of the papers that comprise this special issue. We begin by comparing and contrasting genetic engineering with programs of selective breeding that led to the domestication of plants and animals, and we consider how genetic engineering differs from other contemporary biotechnologies such as embryo selection. We (...) go on to consider the implications of genetic engineering for human nature, humanevolution, and persistence of the human species. Finally, we question whether genetic interventions warrant the extraordinary ethical scrutiny they are often given, and we show how the misleading “genetic blueprint” metaphor has imposed a faulty structure on the enhancement debate. We conclude by considering the nature of biological development and the sobering limits it places on what genetic engineering can reasonably hope to achieve. (shrink)
The United Nations (UN), facing increasingly intense challenges in the fulfillment of its mission, also harbors the potential for enhanced effectiveness, relevance, and legitimacy in the form of the human rights-based approach. The human rights-based approach (HRBA) is one model for translating the organization’s values into a more adaptive, inclusive, dynamic, and responsive system of processes and outcomes. In the arena of politics, its meeting with a meaningful degree of receptiveness could signal a growing acceptance of the validity (...) of structural approaches to development and other issues despite traditional defensive positions on human rights. Application of the HRBA in programming is leading to greater appreciation for addressing core disparities and promoting empowerment for sustainable outcomes. It is also cultivating new qualities in development practitioners, advancing creativity, openness and responsiveness in organizational culture. In feeding its evolution in this way, the UN as a system has the potential for deeper, longer-term mission fulfillment and thus ensuring its viability. (shrink)
Research from ethology and evolutionary biology indicates the following about the evolution of reasoning capacity. First, solving problems of social competition and cooperation have direct impact on survival rates and reproductive success. Second, the social structure that evolved from this pressure is the dominance hierarchy. Third, primates that live in large groups with complex dominance hierarchies also show greater neocortical development, and concomitantly greater cognitive capacity. These facts suggest that the necessity of reasoning effectively about dominance hierarchies left an (...) indelible mark on primate reasoning architectures, including that of humans. In order to survive in a dominance hierarchy, an individual must be capable of (a) making rank discriminations, (b) recognizing what is forbidden and what is permitted based one's rank, and (c) deciding whether to engage in or refriin from activities that will allow one to move up in rank. The first problem is closely tied to the capacity for transitive reasoning, while the second and third are intimately related to the capacity for deontic reasoning. I argue that the human capacity for these types of reasoning have evolutionary roots that reach deeper into our ancestral past than the emergence of the hominid line, and the operation of these evolutionarily primitive reasoning systems can be seen in the development of human reasoning and domain-specific effects in adult reasoning. (shrink)
The main problem discussed in this paper is: Why and how did animal cognition abilities arise? It is argued that investigations of the evolution of animal cognition abilities are very important from an epistemological point of view. A new direction for interdisciplinary researches – the creation and development of the theory of human logic origin – is proposed. The approaches to the origination of such a theory (mathematical models of ``intelligent invention'' of biological evolution, the cybernetic schemes (...) of evolutionary progress and purposeful adaptive behavior) as well as potential interdisciplinary links of the theory are described and analyzed. (shrink)
In a critical review of late twentieth-century gene-culture co-evolutionary models labelled as ‘global phylogeny’, the authors present evidence for the long legacy of co-evolutionary theories in European-based thinking, highlighting that (1) ideas of social and cultural evolution preceded the idea of biological evolution, (2) linguistics played a dominant role in the formation of a unified theory of human co-evolution, and (3) that co-evolutionary thinking was only possible due to perpetuated and renewed transdisciplinary reticulations between scholars of (...) different disciplines—especially within the integrative framework of the ‘humanid’ and the ‘hominid’ branches of anthropology. (shrink)
In contrast to many other models of humanevolution the "balance of power" theory of Alexander has a clear answer to the question why a runaway selection process for unique social and moral capacities occurred in our ancestry only and not in other species: "ecological dominance" is hypothesized to have diminished the effects of "extrinsic" forces of natural selection such that within-species, intergroup competition increased (Alexander, 1989). Alexander seems to be wrong, however, in his claim that already the (...) common HUCHIBO (Humans, Chimps, Bonobo's)-ancestor has crossed the ecological dominance barrier. In this paper an adapted version of Alexander's model is presented and several different ways are proposed to make this adapted version testable. A preliminary survey of the available paleontological and paleoecological data suggests that there is some evidence of a less vulnerable position towards predators in early Homo and that there are clear signs related to a crossing of the ecological dominance barrier in Homo sapiens sapiens. (shrink)
The concept of preadaptation, though useful, continues to trouble evolutionary scientists. Usually, it is treated as if it were really adaptation, prompting such diverse theorists as Gould and Vrba, and Dennett to suggest its removal from evolutionary theory altogether. In this paper, I argue that the as-if sense is ill-founded, and that the sense of preadaptation as a process may be defended as unequivocal and generally useful in evolutionary explanations, even in such problem areas as humanevolution.
Psychological evidence suggests that laypeople understand the world around them in terms of intuitive ontologies which describe broad categories of objects in the world, such as ‘person’, ‘artefact’ and ‘animal’. However, because intuitive ontologies are the result of natural selection, they only need to be adaptive; this does not guarantee that the knowledge they provide is a genuine reflection of causal mechanisms in the world. As a result, science has parted ways with intuitive ontologies. Nevertheless, since the brain is evolved (...) to understand objects in the world according to these categories, we can expect that they continue to play a role in scientific understanding. Taking the case of humanevolution, we explore relationships between intuitive ontological and scientific understanding. We show that intuitive ontologies not only shape intuitions on humanevolution, but also guide the direction and topics of interest in its research programmes. Elucidating the relationships between intuitive ontologies and science may help us gain a clearer insight into scientific understanding. (shrink)
This essay critiques dual-inheritance theory as presented in Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd's book Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed HumanEvolution (2005). The theory states that culture became prominent in humanevolution because it allowed relatively rapid adaptation to changing environments by means of imitation. Imitating the behavior of other members of one's community produces adaptive behaviors more readily than either genetic evolution or individual learning. Imitation follows a number of patterns: imitating high-status (...) individuals, imitating the most common forms of behavior, imitating behaviors perceived to be the most effective solutions to various problems relevant to survival. This process combined with occasional innovations in behavior lead to a process of cultural evolution involving populations of cultural variants. Different local human populations were associated with different local populations of cultural variants, and both the human and the cultural populations evolved over time. Humanevolution cannot be understood without taking into account these parallel processes of genetic and cultural evolution. Not by Genes Alone traces the implication of dual-inheritance theory for understanding humanevolution and refers to various bodies of evidence relevant to the theory. (shrink)
Evolutionary development is sometimes thought of as exhibiting an inexorable trend towards higher, more complex, and normatively worthwhile forms of life. This paper explores some dystopian scenarios where freewheeling evolutionary developments, while continuing to produce complex and intelligent forms of organization, lead to the gradual elimination of all forms of being that we care about. We then consider how such catastrophic outcomes could be avoided and argue that under certain conditions the only possible remedy would be a globally coordinated policy (...) to control humanevolution by modifying the fitness function of future intelligent life forms. (shrink)
This paper considers whether the available evidence from archeology, biological anthropology, primatology, and comparative gene-sequencing, can test evolutionary game theory models of cooperation as historical hypotheses about the actual course of human prehistory. The examination proceeds on the assumption that cooperation is the product of cultural selection and is not a genetically encoded trait. Nevertheless, we conclude that gene sequence data may yet shed significant light on the evolution of cooperation.
The revised edition of Paul Seabright’s The Company of Strangers is critically reviewed. Seabright aims to help non-economists participating in the cross-disciplinary study of the evolution of human sociality appreciate the potential value that can be added by economists. Though the book includes nicely constructed and vivid essays on a range of economic topics, in its main ambition it largely falls short. The most serious problem is endorsement of the so-called strong reciprocity hypothesis that has been promoted by (...) several prominent economists, but does not pass muster with biologists. (shrink)
There is a tendency in both scientific and humanistic disciplines to think of biological evolution in humans as significantly impeded if not completely overwhelmed by the robust cultural and technological capabilities of the species. The aim of this article is to make sense of and evaluate this claim. In Section 2 , I flesh out the argument that humans are ‘insulated’ from ordinary evolutionary mechanisms in terms of our contemporary biological understandings of phenotypic plasticity, niche construction, and cultural transmission. (...) In Section 3 , I consider two obvious objections to the above argument based on the growing literatures related to gene-culture coevolution and recent positive selection on the human genome, as well as a pair of less common objections relating to the connection between plasticity, population size and evolvability. In Section 4 , I argue that both the ‘human evolutionary stasis argument’ and its various detractor theories are premised on a fundamental conceptual flaw: they take evolutionary stasis for granted, since they fail to conceive of stabilizing selection as a type of evolution and drift as a universal tendency that dominates in the absence of selection. Without the continued operation of natural selection, the very properties that are purported to reduce the evolutionary response to selection in humans would themselves drift into non-functionality. I conclude that properly conceived, biological evolution is a permanent and ineradicable fixture of any species, including Homo sapiens. (shrink)
This paper and its subsequent parts (Part II and Part III) build on an earlier publication (McKenna 1986). They suggest that important clinical data on the relationship between infantile constitutional deficits and microenvironmental factors relevant to SIDS can be acquired by examining the physiological regulatory effects (well documented among nonhuman primates) that parents assert on their infants when they sleep together.I attempt to show why access to parental sensory cues (movement, touch, smell, sound) that induce arousals in infants while they (...) sleep could possibly help one of many different subclasses of infants either to override certain kinds of sleep-induced breathing control errors suspected to be involved in SIDS or to avoid them altogether. I do not suggest that solitary nocturnal sleep “causes” SIDS, that all parents should sleep with their infants, or that traditional SIDS research strategies should be abandoned. However, using evolutionary data, I do suggest that an adaptive fit exists between parent-infant sleep contact and the natural physiological vulnerabilities of the neurologically immature human infant, whose breathing system is more complex than that of other mammals owing to its speech-breathing abilities. This “fit” is best understood, it is argued, in terms of the 4–5 million years of humanevolution in which parent-infant contact was almost certainly continuous during at least the first year of an infant’s life. Thus, to dismiss the idea that solitary sleep has no physiological consequences for infants does not accord with scientific facts. (shrink)
We propose a conceptual model that maps the causal pathways relating biological evolution to cultural change. It builds on conventional evolutionary theory by placing emphasis on the capacity of organisms to modify sources of natural selection in their environment (niche construction) and by broadening the evolutionary dynamic to incorporate ontogenetic and cultural processes. In this model, phenotypes have a much more active role in evolution than generally conceived. This sheds light on hominid evolution, on the evolution (...) of culture, and on altruism and cooperation. Culture amplifies the capacity of human beings to modify sources of natural selection in their environments to the point where that capacity raises some new questions about the processes of human adaptation. Key Words: adaptation; altruism; cooperation; evolutionary psychology; gene-culture coevolution; humanevolution; human genetics; niche construction; sociobiology. (shrink)
This article deals with the links between the enaction paradigm and artificial intelligence. Enaction is considered a metaphor for artificial intelligence, as a number of the notions which it deals with are deemed incompatible with the phenomenal field of the virtual. After explaining this stance, we shall review previous works regarding this issue in terms of artificial life and robotics. We shall focus on the lack of recognition of co-evolution at the heart of these approaches. We propose to explicitly (...) integrate the evolution of the environment into our approach in order to refine the ontogenesis of the artificial system, and to compare it with the enaction paradigm. The growing complexity of the ontogenetic mechanisms to be activated can therefore be compensated by an interactive guidance system emanating from the environment. This proposition does not however, resolve that of the relevance of the meaning created by the machine (sense-making). Such reflections lead us to integrate human interaction into this environment in order to construct relevant meaning in terms of participative artificial intelligence. This raises a number of questions with regards to setting up an enactive interaction. The article concludes by exploring a number of issues, thereby enabling us to associate current approaches with the principles of morphogenesis, guidance, the phenomenology of interactions and the use of minimal enactive interfaces in setting up experiments which will deal with the problem of artificial intelligence in a variety of enaction-based ways. (shrink)
Christians who affirm standard science and the biblical doctrine of creation often endorse theistic evolution as the best approach to human origins. But theistic evolution is ambiguous. Some versions are naturalistic (NTE)—God created humans entirely by evolution—and some are supernaturalistic (STE)—God supernaturally augmented evolution. This article claims that NTE is inadequate as an account of human origins because its theological naturalism and emergent physicalist ontology of the soul or person conflict with the Christian doctrine (...) that God created humans for everlasting life. Both the traditional Christian account of the afterlife and its modern Christian alternatives involve God's supernatural action and a separation (dualism) of person and body at death. STE can combine with several philosophical accounts of the body-soul relation to provide an adequate Christian account of original human nature. (shrink)
Some understand the evolutionary process as more or less predictable; others stress its contingency. I argue that both Christian evolutionists who have assumed that the purposes of the Creator can be realized only through more or less predictable processes as well as those who infer from the contingency of the evolutionary process to the lack of purpose in the universe generally, are mistaken if the Creator escapes from the limits imposed on the creature by temporality, as the traditional Augustinian account (...) supposes. The notion of “purpose” must itself be reinterpreted in such a case. It makes no difference whether the appearance of Homo sapiens is the inevitable result of a steady process of complexification stretching over billions of years, or whether it comes about through a series of coincidences that would have made it entirely unpredictable from the (causal) human standpoint. Either way, the outcome is of God's making, and from the biblical standpoint may appear as part of God's plan. (shrink)
The existence of embodied communication in humans places them among other living systems and helps to differentiate sign patterns that are common to all bioforms from those that are peculiarly human. Despite the fact that the biological roots of communication have been proven, the understanding of human forms of discourse is still far from being clarified. The main question remains: when and why did humans acquire the ability to exchange messages via speech? My thesis is that it became (...) possible only after humans made a shift from on-line to off-line interaction and learned to communicate in the interpersonal mode via externalized analog codes that constitute the various forms of human culture. (shrink)
Introduction -- Landscape and longing -- Art and human nature -- What is art? -- But they don't have our concept of art -- Art and natural selection -- The uses of fiction -- Art and human self-domestication -- Intention, forgery, dada : three aesthetic problems -- The contingency of aesthetic values -- Greatness in the arts.
This paper is a cross-cultural examination of the development of hunting skills and the implications for the debate on the role of learning in the evolution of human life history patterns. While life history theory has proven to be a powerful tool for understanding the evolution of the human life course, other schools, such as cultural transmission and social learning theory, also provide theoretical insights. These disparate theories are reviewed, and alternative and exclusive predictions are identified. (...) This study of cross-cultural regularities in how children learn hunting skills, based on the ethnographic literature on traditional hunters, complements existing empirical work and highlights future areas for investigation. (shrink)
Understanding female sexuality and mate choice is central to evolutionary scenarios of human social systems. Studies of female sexuality conducted by sex researchers in the United States since 1938 indicate that human females in general are concerned with their sexual well-being and are capable of sexual response parallel to that of males. Across cultures in general and in western societies in particular, females engage in extramarital affairs regularly, regardless of punishment by males or social disapproval. Families are usually (...) concerned with marriage arrangements only insofar as those arrangements are economically or politically advantageous, but females most often have a voice in arranged marriages. Extended families also concentrate on a couple’s future reproduction rather than on sexual exclusivity. Although marriage for females is often compromised by male or family reproductive interests (which may not in fact differ from female interests), females appear to exercise their sexuality with more freedom than has previously been suggested. Notions of human females as pawns in the male reproductive game, or as traders of sex for male services, should be dispelled. (shrink)
In his anthology of socio-political essays, Evolution and Human Life, Oka Asajirō (1868-1944), early twentieth century Japan's foremost advocate of evolutionism, developed a biological vision of the nation-state as super-organism that reflected the concerns and aims of German-inspired Meiji statism and anticipated aspects of radical ultra-nationalism. Drawing on non-Darwinian doctrines, Oka attempted to realize such a fused or organic state by enhancing social instincts that would bind the minzoku (ethnic nation) and state into a single living entity. Though (...) mobilization during the Russo-Japanese War seemed to evince this super-organism, the increasingly contentious and complex society that emerged in the war's aftermath caused Oka to turn first to Lamarckism and eventually to orthogenesis in the hopes of preserving the instincts needed for a viable nation-state. It is especially in the state interventionist measures that Oka finally came to endorse in order to forestall orthogenetically-driven degeneration that the technocratic proclivities of his statist orientation become most apparent. The article concludes by suggesting that Oka’s emphasis on degeneration, autarkic expansion, and, most especially, totalitarian submersion of individuals into the statist collectivity indicates a complex relationship between his evolutionism and fascist ideology, what recent scholarship has dubbed radical Shinto ultra-nationalism. (shrink)
Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct succeeds admirably in showing that it is possible to think about art from a biological point of view, and this is a significant achievement, given that resistance to the idea that cultural phenomena have biological underpinnings remains widespread in many academic disciplines. However, his account of the origins of our artistic impulses and the far-reaching conclusions he draws from that account are not persuasive. This article points out a number of problems: in particular, problems with (...) Dutton’s appeal to sexual selection, with his discussion of the adaptation/by-product distinction and its significance, and with drawing normative conclusions from evolutionary hypotheses. (shrink)
The DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10 have judiciously minimized discussion of etiologies to distance clinical psychiatry from Freudian psychoanalysis. With this goal mostly achieved, discussion of etiological factors should be reintroduced into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). A research agenda for the DSM-V advocated the "development of a pathophysiologically based classification system". The author critically reviews the neuroevolutionary literature on stress-induced and fear circuitry disorders and related amygdala-driven, species-atypical fear behaviors of clinical severity in (...) adult humans. Over 30 empirically testable/falsifiable predictions are presented. It is noted that in DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10, the classification of stress and fear circuitry disorders is neither mode-of-acquisition-based nor brain-evolution-based. For example, snake phobia (innate) and dog phobia (overconsolidational) are clustered together. Similarly, research on blood-injection-injury-type-specific phobia clusters two fears different in their innateness: 1) an arguably ontogenetic memory-trace-overconsolidation-based fear (hospital phobia) and 2) a hardwired (innate) fear of the sight of one's blood or a sharp object penetrating one's skin. Genetic architecture-charting of fear-circuitry-related traits has been challenging. Various, non-phenotype-based architectures can serve as targets for research. In this article, the author will propose one such alternative genetic architecture. This article was inspired by the following: A) Nesse's "Smoke-Detector Principle", B) the increasing suspicion that the "smooth" rather than "lumpy" distribution of complex psychiatric phenotypes (including fear-circuitry disorders) may in some cases be accounted for by oligogenic (and not necessarily polygenic) transmission, and C) insights from the initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome by the Chimpanzee Sequencing and Analysis Consortium published in late 2005. Neuroevolutionary insights relevant to fear circuitry symptoms that primarily emerge overconsolidationally (especially Combat related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) are presented. Also introduced is a human-evolution-based principle for clustering innate fear traits. The "Neuroevolutionary Time-depth Principle" of innate fears proposed in this article may be useful in the development of a neuroevolution-based taxonomic re-clustering of stress-triggered and fear-circuitry disorders in DSM-V. Four broad clusters of evolved fear circuits are proposed based on their time-depths: 1) Mesozoic (mammalian-wide) circuits hardwired by wild-type alleles driven to fixation by Mesozoic selective sweeps; 2) Cenozoic (simian-wide) circuits relevant to many specific phobias; 3) mid Paleolithic and upper Paleolithic (Homo sapiens-specific) circuits (arguably resulting mostly from mate-choice-driven stabilizing selection); 4) Neolithic circuits (arguably mostly related to stabilizing selection driven by gene-culture co-evolution). More importantly, the author presents evolutionary perspectives on warzone-related PTSD, Combat-Stress Reaction, Combat-related Stress, Operational-Stress, and other deployment-stress-induced symptoms. The Neuroevolutionary Time-depth Principle presented in this article may help explain the dissimilar stress-resilience levels following different types of acute threat to survival of oneself or one's progency (aka DSM-III and DSM-V PTSD Criterion-A events). PTSD rates following exposure to lethal inter-group violence (combat, warzone exposure or intentionally caused disasters such as terrorism) are usually 5-10 times higher than rates following large-scale natural disasters such as forest fires, floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. The author predicts that both intentionally-caused large-scale bioevent-disasters, as well as natural bioevents such as SARS and avian flu pandemics will be an exception and are likely to be followed by PTSD rates approaching those that follow warzone exposure. During bioevents, Amygdala-driven and locus-coeruleus-driven epidemic pseudosomatic symptoms may be an order of magnitude more common than infection-caused cytokine-driven symptoms. Implications for the red cross and FEMA are discussed. It is also argued that hospital phobia as well as dog phobia, bird phobia and bat phobia require re-taxonomization in DSM-V in a new "overconsolidational disorders" category anchored around PTSD. The overconsolidational spectrum category may be conceptualized as straddling the fear circuitry spectrum disorders and the affective spectrum disorders categories, and may be a category for which Pitman's secondary prevention propranolol regimen may be specifically indicated as a "morning after pill" intervention. Predictions are presented regarding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (e.g., female-pattern hoarding vs. male-pattern hoarding) and "culture-bound" acute anxiety symptoms (taijin-kyofusho, koro, shuk yang, shook yong, suo yang, rok-joo, jinjinia-bemar, karoshi, gwarosa, Voodoo death). Also discussed are insights relevant to pseudoneurological symptoms and to the forthcoming Dissociative-Conversive disorders category in DSM-V, including what the author terms fright-triggered acute pseudo-localized symptoms (i.e., pseudoparalysis, pseudocerebellar imbalance, psychogenic blindness, pseudoseizures, and epidemic sociogenic illness). Speculations based on studies of the human abnormal-spindle-like, microcephaly-associated (ASPM) gene, the microcephaly primary autosomal recessive (MCPH) gene, and the forkhead box p2 (FOXP2) gene are made and incorporated into what is termed "The pre-FOXP2 Hypothesis of Blood-Injection-Injury Phobia." Finally, the author argues for a non-reductionistic fusion of "distal (evolutionary) neurobiology" with clinical "proximal neurobiology," utilizing neurological heuristics. It is noted that the value of re-clustering fear traits based on behavioral ethology, human-phylogenomics-derived endophenotypes and on ontogenomics (gene-environment interactions) can be confirmed or disconfirmed using epidemiological or twin studies and psychiatric genomics. (shrink)
The meme is an evolutionary replicator, defined as information copied from person to person by imitation. I suggest that taking memes into account may provide a better understanding of humanevolution in the following way. Memes appeared in humanevolution when our ancestors became capable of imitation. From this time on two replicators, memes and genes, coevolved. Successful memes changed the selective environment, favouring genes for the ability to copy them. I have called this process memetic (...) drive. Meme-gene coevolution produced a big brain that is especially good at copying certain kinds of memes. This is an example of the more general process in which a replicator and its replication machinery evolve together. The human brain has been designed not just for the benefit of human genes, but for the replication of memes. It is a selective imitation device. (shrink)
The Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) is widely used to model social interaction between unrelated individuals in the study of the evolution of cooperative behaviour in humans and other species. Many effective mechanisms and promotive scenarios have been studied which allow for small founding groups of cooperative individuals to prevail even when all social interaction is characterised as a PD. Here, a brief critical discussion of the role of the PD as the most prominent tool in cooperation research is presented, followed (...) by two new objections to such an exclusive focus on PD-based models of social interaction. It is highlighted that only 2 of the 726 combinatorially possible strategically unique ordinal 2x2 games have the detrimental characteristics of a PD and that the frequency of PD-type games in a space of games with random payoffs does not exceed about 3.5%. Although these purely mathematical considerations do not compellingly imply that the relevance of PDs is overestimated, it is proposed that, in the absence of convergent empirical information about the ancestral human social niche, this finding can be interpreted in favour of a so far rather neglected answer to the question of how the founding groups of human cooperation themselves came to cooperate: Behavioural and/or psychological mechanisms which evolved for other, possibly more frequent, social interaction situations might have been applied to PD-type dilemmas only later. Human cooperative behaviour might thus partly have begun as a cooptation. (shrink)
From the time that they diverged from their common ancestor, chimpanzees and humans have had a very different evolutionary path. It seems obvious that the appearance of culture and technology has increasingly alienated humans from the path of natural selection that has informed chimpanzee evolution. According to philosopher Peter Sloterdijk any type of technology is bound to have genetic effects. But to what extent do genomic comparisons provide evidence for such an impact of ‘anthropotechnology’ on our biological evolution?
Children seem to have a profound implicit knowledge of human behaviour, because they laugh at Bugs Bunny cartoons where much of the humour depends on animals behaving like humans and our intuitive recognition that this is absurd. Scientists, on the other hand, have problems defining what this 'human difference' is. I suggest these problems are of cultural origin. For example, the industrial revolution and the protestant work ethic have created a world in which work is valued over play, (...) object intelligence over social intelligence, and science and technology over the arts. This may explain why we have so many imaging studies of tool-use and object manipulation, but only four studies of dance, two of pretend play, and one of role-play. Yet in order to understand child development, the evolution of the brain, and the emergence of human self-consciousness, we need to look at social displays-- such as dance, song, image-making and role-play-- which underpin human culture, cooperation and the arts. I will discuss recent brain imaging research on playful versus instrumental behaviour and show how, in conjunction with archaeological data, we can use this to make sense of humanevolution. (shrink)
One of the major adaptations during the evolution of Homo sapiens was an increase in brain size. Here we present evidence that a significant and substantial proportion of variation in brain size may be related to changes in temperature. Based on a sample of 109 fossilized hominid skulls, we found that cranial capacities were highly correlated with paleoclimatic changes in temperature, as indexed by oxygen isotope data and sea-surface temperature. Indeed, as much as 52% of the variance in the (...) cranial capacity of these skulls could be accounted for by temperature variation at 100 ka intervals. As an index of more short-term seasonal fluctuations in temperature, we examined the latitude of the sites from which the crania originated. More than 22% of the variance in cranial capacity of these skulls could be accounted for by variation in equatorial distance. (shrink)
Reproductive senescence in human females takes place long before other body functions senesce. This fact presents an evolutionary dilemma since continued reproduction should generally be favored by natural selection. Two commonly proposed hypotheses to account for human menopause are (a) a recent increase in the human lifespan and (b) a switch to investment in close kin rather than direct reproduction. No support is found for the proposition that human lifespans have only recently increased. Data from Ache (...) hunter-gatherers are used to test the kin selection hypothesis. Ache data do not support the proposition that females can gain greater fitness benefits in old age by helping kin rather than continuing to reproduce. Nevertheless, one crucial parameter in the model, when adjusted to the highest value within the measured 95% confidence interval, would lead to the evolution of reproductive senescence at about 53 years of age. Further investigation is necessary to determine whether the kin selection hypothesis of menopause can account for its current maintenance in most populations. (shrink)
This paper defends two initial claims. First, it argues that essentially the same cognitive resources are shared by adult creative thinking and problem-solving, on the one hand, and by childhood pretend play, on the other—namely, capacities to generate and to reason with suppositions (or imagined possibilities). Second, it argues that the evolutionary function of childhood pretence is to practice and enhance adult forms of creativity. The paper goes on to show how these proposals can provide a smooth and evolutionarily-plausible explanation (...) of the gap between the first appearance of our species in Southern Africa some 100,000 years ago, and the ‘creative explosion’ of cultural, technological and artistic change which took place within dispersed human populations some 60,000 years later. The intention of the paper is to sketch a proposal which might serve as a guide for future interdisciplinary research. 1 Introduction 2 Creativity and Pretence 3 Language and Creativity 4 Language and Cultural Accretions 5 Language, Play and Model-Building 6 Creativity, Protean Cognition and Sexual Selection 7 The Evolution of Pretence 8 The Emergence of Supposing 9 Pretence and Motivation 10 Two Objections 11 Conclusion. (shrink)
It has long been claimed that Homo sapiens is the only species that has language, but only recently has it been recognized that humans also have an unusual pattern of growth and development. Social mammals have two stages of pre-adult development: infancy and juvenility. Humans have two additional prolonged and pronounced life history stages: childhood, an interval of four years extending between infancy and the juvenile period that follows, and adolescence, a stage of about eight years that stretches from juvenility (...) to adulthood. We begin by reviewing the primary biological and linguistic changes occurring in each of the four pre-adult ontogenetic stages in human life history. Then we attempt to trace the evolution of childhood and juvenility in our hominin ancestors. We propose that several different forms of selection applied in infancy and childhood; and that, in adolescence, elaborated vocal behaviors played a role in courtship and intrasexual competition, enhancing fitness and ultimately integrating performative and pragmatic skills with linguistic knowledge in a broad faculty of language. A theoretical consequence of our proposal is that fossil evidence of the uniquely human stages may be used, with other findings, to date the emergence of language. If important aspects of language cannot appear until sexual maturity, as we propose, then a second consequence is that the development of language requires the whole of modern human ontogeny. Our life history model thus offers new ways of investigating, and thinking about, the evolution, development, and ultimately the nature of human language. (shrink)
The “hypervigilance, escape, struggle, tonic immobility” evolutionarily hardwired acute peritraumatic response sequence is important for clinicians to understand. Our commentary supplements the useful article on human tonic immobility (TI) by Marx, Forsyth, Gallup, Fusé and Lexington (2008). A hallmark sign of TI is peritraumatic tachycardia, which others have documented as a major risk factor for subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). TI is evolutionarily highly conserved (uniform across species) and underscores the need for DSM-V planners to consider the inclusion of (...)evolution theory in the reconceptualization of anxiety and PTSD. We discuss the relevance of evolution theory to the DSM-V reconceptualization of acute dissociativeconversion symptoms and of epidemic sociogenic disorder(epidemic “hysteria”). Both are especially in need of attention in light of the increasing threat of terrorism against civilians. We provide other pertinent examples. Finally, evolution theory is not ideology driven (and makes testable predictions regarding etiology in “both directions”). For instance, it predicted the unexpected finding that some disorders conceptualized in DSM-IV-TR as innate phobias are conditioned responses and thus better conceptualized as mild forms of PTSD. Evolution theory may offer a conceptual framework in DSM-V both for treatment and for research on psychopathology. (shrink)