Hominid cultural transmission and the evolution of language

Biology and Philosophy 19 (5):721-737 (2004)
This paper presents the hypothesis that linguistic capacity evolved through the action of natural selection as an instrument which increased the efficiency of the cultural transmission system of early hominids. We suggest that during the early stages of hominization, hominid social learning, based on indirect social learning mechanisms and true imitation, came to constitute cumulative cultural transmission based on true imitation and the approval or disapproval of the learned behaviour of offspring. A key factor for this transformation was the development of a conceptual capacity for categorizing learned behaviour in value terms - positive or negative, good or bad. We believe that some hominids developed this capacity for categorizing behaviour, and such an ability allowed them to approve or disapprove of their offsprings- learned behaviour. With such an ability, hominids were favoured, as they could transmit to their offspring all their behavioural experience about what can and cannot be done. This capacity triggered a cultural transmission system similar to the human one, though pre-linguistic. We suggest that the adaptive advantage provided by this new system of social learning generated a selection pressure in favour of the development of a linguistic capacity allowing children to better understand the new kind of evaluative information received from parents.
Keywords cultural transmission  evolution of language  human evolution
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2005
DOI 10.1007/s10539-005-5567-7
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 31,334
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
The Language Instinct.Steven Pinker - 1995 - Harper Perennial.
Primate Cognition.Amanda Seed & Michael Tomasello - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):407-419.
Natural Selection and Natural Language.Steven Pinker & Paul Bloom - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4):707-784.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
The Evolution and Evolvability of Culture.Kim Sterelny - 2006 - Mind and Language 21 (2):137-165.
The Future of Human Evolution.Russell Powell - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):145-175.
The Evolution and Evolvability of Culture.Kim Sterelny - 2006 - Mind Language 21 (2):137-165.
Embodiment Versus Memetics.Joanna J. Bryson - 2007 - Mind and Society 7 (1):77-94.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index

Total downloads
51 ( #114,639 of 2,225,324 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
11 ( #39,461 of 2,225,324 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature