Johan De Smedt
University of Ghent
The aim of this dissertation is to create a naturalistic philosophical picture of creative capacities that are specific to our species, focusing on artistic ability, religious reflection, and scientific study. By integrating data from diverse domains within a philosophical anthropological framework, I have presented a cognitive and evolutionary approach to the question of why humans, but not other animals engage in such activities. Through an application of cognitive and evolutionary perspectives to the study of these behaviors, I have sought to provide a more solid footing for philosophical anthropological discussions of uniquely human behavior. In particular, I have argued that art, religion and science, which are usually seen as achievements that are quite remote from ordinary modes of reasoning, are subserved by evolved cognitive processes that serve functions in everyday cognitive tasks, that arise early and spontaneously in cognitive development, that are shared cross-culturally, and that have evolved in response to selective pressures in our ancestral past. These mundane cognitive processes provide a measuring rod with which we can assess a diversity of cultural phenomena; they form a unified explanatory framework to approach human culture. I have argued that we can explain uncommon thoughts in terms of interactions between common minds. This dissertation is subdivided into four parts. Part I outlines the problem of human uniqueness, examining theories on how humans conceptualize the world, and what their mental tool box looks like. Part II discusses the evolutionary and cognitive origins of human artistic behavior. Part III focuses on the cognitive science of religion, especially on how it can be applied to the reasoning of theologians and philosophers of religion. Part IV considers the cognitive basis of scientific practice.
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Counterfactual Imagination as a Mental Tool for Innovation.Monika Chylińska - 2017 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 8 (T):241-253.

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