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A Science of Human Nature?

Philosophical Disputes at the Interface of Natural and Social Science

Studying at Cambridge

Upcoming seminar: Kim Sterelny on Artefacts, Symbols, Thoughts

last modified Apr 28, 2016 06:11 PM

Artefacts, Symbols, Thoughts.

Kim Sterelny (ANU)

Until relatively recently, it was often supposed that changes in the material record of hominin life indexed advances in hominin cognitive sophistication in a relatively direct way. In particular, the “Upper Palaeolithic Revolution” — an apparently abrupt increase in the complexity and disparity of our material culture — was thought to signal the arrival of the fully human mind. While the idea of a direct relationship between material complexity and cognitive sophistication still has some defenders, this view has largely been abandoned. It is now widely appreciated that aspects of ancient hominin’s demographic and social organisation have a powerful influence both on the material culture they need and the material culture they can sustain. But if this more nuanced view is right (and I shall defend it), what does the deep material record tell us about the evolution of hominin cognition? I explore that question in this paper, in the context of recent ideas about the evolution of social complexity.


This talk will take place at 2pm on Monday 18th April in Seminar Room 2, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane, CB2 3RH.