Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):383-399 (2007)
AbstractA cultural change occurred roughly 40,000 years ago. For the first time, there was evidence of belief in unseen agents and an afterlife. Before this time, humans did not show widespread evidence of being able to think about objects, persons, and other agents that they had not been in close contact with. I argue that one can explain this transition by appealing to a population increase resulting in greater exoteric (inter-group) communication. The increase in exoteric communication triggered the actualization of a dormant potential for greater syntactic computational power; specifically it triggered syntactic movement. Syntactic movement, in turn, made possible variable binding, which crucially figures into cognition by description, a naturalistic analogue of Russell’s knowledge by description. Cognition by description made possible the ability to conceive of things one had never experienced, such as mythological beings, places only visited by the dead, and so forth. The Amazonian Pirahã provide some corroboration for this hypothesis, since they exhibit the combination of traits here attributed to Middle Paleolithic individuals, namely exclusively esoteric (intra-group) communication, evident lack of syntactic movement, and a limitation to knowledge (cognition) by acquaintance.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
Similar books and articles
From Chicken Squawking to Cognition: Levels of Description and the Computational Approach in Psychology.Axel Cleeremans & Robert M. French - 1996 - Psychologica Belgica 36:5-29.
Self-Directedness: A Process Approach to Cognition. [REVIEW]Wayne Christensen - 2004 - Axiomathes 14 (1-3):157-175.
The Concept of Personal Identity.Steven Rieber - 1998 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (3):581-594.
Paleolithic Ornaments: Implications for Cognition, Demography and Identity.Steven L. Kuhn & Mary C. Stiner - 2007 - Diogenes 54 (2):40 - 48.
Intersubjectivity of Cognition and Language: Principled Reasons Why the Subject May Be Trusted.Nini Praetorius - 2004 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 3 (2):195-214.
References found in this work
Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.Bertrand Arthur William Russell - 1919 - London, England: Dover Publications.
Reference and Definite Descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Citations of this work
Labels, Cognomes, and Cyclic Computation: An Ethological Perspective.Elliot Murphy - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
The Emergence of Modern Languages: Has Human Self-Domestication Optimized Language Transmission?Antonio Benítez-Burraco & Vera Kempe - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
Constructing Complexity in a Young Sign Language.Svetlana Dachkovsky, Rose Stamp & Wendy Sandler - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
Evolutionary Linguistics Can Help Refine (and Test) Hypotheses About How Music Might Have Evolved.Antonio Benítez-Burraco - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44.