Landscape of the Mind

Author: John F. Hoffecker
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 023151848X
Format: PDF, Kindle
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In Landscape of the Mind, John F. Hoffecker explores the origin and growth of the human mind, drawing on archaeology, history, and the fossil record. He suggests that, as an indirect result of bipedal locomotion, early humans developed a feedback relationship among their hands, brains, and tools that evolved into the capacity to externalize thoughts in the form of shaped stone objects. When anatomically modern humans evolved a parallel capacity to externalize thoughts as symbolic language, individual brains within social groups became integrated into a "neocortical Internet," or super-brain, giving birth to the mind. Noting that archaeological traces of symbolism coincide with evidence of the ability to generate novel technology, Hoffecker contends that human creativity, as well as higher order consciousness, is a product of the superbrain. He equates the subsequent growth of the mind with human history, which began in Africa more than 50,000 years ago. As anatomically modern humans spread across the globe, adapting to a variety of climates and habitats, they redesigned themselves technologically and created alternative realities through tools, language, and art. Hoffecker connects the rise of civilization to a hierarchical reorganization of the super-brain, triggered by explosive population growth. Subsequent human history reflects to varying degrees the suppression of the mind's creative powers by the rigid hierarchies of nationstates and empires, constraining the further accumulation of knowledge. The modern world emerged after 1200 from the fragments of the Roman Empire, whose collapse had eliminated a central authority that could thwart innovation. Hoffecker concludes with speculation about the possibility of artificial intelligence and the consequences of a mind liberated from its organic antecedents to exist in an independent, nonbiological form.

Seeking Perfection

Author: Matt J. Rossano
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1351491644
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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"How would Socrates and Plato react to a modern world where secularism and religious fundamentalism are growing while the gap between the human mind and animal mind is narrowing? Using some creative license mixed with real history, science, and philosophy, Seeking Perfection addresses that question. Matt J. Rossano uses a narrative/dialogue format to superimpose on modern times ancient Greece's two most eminent philosophers, along with its government and culture.The story begins with Plato's daring escape from Sicily, where he tutored Dionysius II in philosophy. On board his homebound ship, Plato recounts his experiences in Sicily. In this narrative, the intellectual difference between practical rewards and the pursuit of ideals provides the basis for a series of dialogue on science, secularism, religion, and the uniqueness of the human mind.Upon the ship's arrival home, Plato's mentor, Socrates, is arrested and his trial provides the venue for the book's final dialogue. The final dialogue serves as a counterweight to the earlier ones. Rossano begins and ends with a philosopher imprisoned by his views, indicative of one of its main messages: the true philosopher uses a well-disciplined mind and the best knowledge of the day to get as close to the truth as possible. In doing so, he invariably gets into trouble. This imaginatively constructed tale will absorb those interested in what the philosophical masters might say about today's world."

Cognitive Archaeology and Human Evolution

Author: Sophie A. de Beaune
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521769779
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Cognitive Archaeology and Human Evolution presented new directions in the study of cognitive archaeology. Seeking to understand the conditions that led to the development of a variety of cognitive processes during evolution, it uses evidence from empirical studies and offers theoretical speculations about the evolution of modern thinking as well. The twelve essays, written by an international team of scholars, represent an eclectic array of interests, methods, and theories about evolutionary cognitive archaeology. Collectively, they consider whether the processes in the development of human cognition simply made a better use of anatomical and cerebral structures already in place at the beginning of hominization. They also consider the possibility of an active role of hominoids in their own development and query the impact of hominoid activity in the emergence of new cognitive abilities.

Mortal Rituals

Author: Matt J. Rossano
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231535465
Format: PDF, ePub
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On December 21, 1972, sixteen young survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 were rescued after spending ten weeks stranded at the crash site of their plane, high in the remote Andes Mountains. The incident made international headlines and spawned several best-selling books, fueled partly by the fact that the young men had resorted to cannibalism to survive. Matt Rossano examines this story from an evolutionary perspective, weaving together findings and ideas from anthropology, psychology, religion, and cognitive science. During their ordeal, these young men broke "civilized" taboos to fend off starvation and abandoned "civilized" modes of thinking to maintain social unity and individual sanity. Through the power of ritual, the survivors were able to endure severe emotional and physical hardship. Rossano ties their story to our story, seeing in the mortal rituals of this struggle for survival a reflection of what it means to be human.

Modern Humans

Author: John F. Hoffecker
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231543743
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Modern Humans is a vivid account of the most recent—and perhaps the most important—phase of human evolution: the appearance of anatomically modern people (Homo sapiens) in Africa less than half a million years ago and their later spread throughout the world. Leaving no stone unturned, John F. Hoffecker demonstrates that Homo sapiens represents a “major transition” in the evolution of living systems in terms of fundamental changes in the role of non-genetic information. Modern Humans synthesizes recent findings from genetics (including the rapidly growing body of ancient DNA), the human fossil record, and archaeology relating to the African origin and global dispersal of anatomically modern people. Hoffecker places humans in the broad context of the evolution of life, emphasizing the critical role of genetic and non-genetic forms of information in living systems as well as how changes in the storage, transmission, and translation of information underlie major transitions in evolution. He also draws on information and complexity theory to explain the emergence of Homo sapiens in Africa several hundred thousand years ago and the rapid and unprecedented spread of our species into a variety of environments in Australia and Eurasia, including the Arctic and Beringia, beginning between 75,000 and 60,000 years ago. This magisterial work will appeal to all with an interest in the ever-fascinating field of human evolution.

Thinking Big How the Evolution of Social Life Shaped the Human Mind

Author: Robin Dunbar
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 0500772142
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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A closer look at genealogy, incorporating how biological, anthropological, and technical factors can influence human lives We are at a pivotal moment in understanding our remote ancestry and its implications for how we live today. The barriers to what we can know about our distant relatives have been falling as a result of scientific advance, such as decoding the genomes of humans and Neanderthals, and bringing together different perspectives to answer common questions. These collaborations have brought new knowledge and suggested fresh concepts to examine. The results have shaken the old certainties. The results are profound; not just for the study of the past but for appreciating why we conduct our social lives in ways, and at scales, that are familiar to all of us. But such basic familiarity raises a dilemma. When surrounded by the myriad technical and cultural innovations that support our global, urbanized lifestyles we can lose sight of the small social worlds we actually inhabit and that can be traced deep into our ancestry. So why do we need art, religion, music, kinship, myths, and all the other facets of our over-active imaginations if the reality of our effective social worlds is set by a limit of some one hundred and fifty partners (Dunbar’s number) made of family, friends, and useful acquaintances? How could such a social community lead to a city the size of London or a country as large as China? Do we really carry our hominin past into our human present? It is these small worlds, and the link they allow to the study of the past that forms the central point in this book.

Handbook of Landscape Archaeology

Author: Bruno David
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1315427729
Format: PDF, ePub
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Over the past three decades, “landscape” has become an umbrella term to describe many different strands of archaeology. From the processualist study of settlement patterns to the phenomenologist’s experience of the natural world, from human impact on past environments to the environment’s impact on human thought, action, and interaction, the term has been used. In this volume, for the first time, over 80 archaeologists from three continents attempt a comprehensive definition of the ideas and practices of landscape archaeology, covering the theoretical and the practical, the research and conservation, and encasing the term in a global framework. As a basic reference volume for landscape archaeology, this volume will be the benchmark for decades to come. All royalties on this Handbook are donated to the World Archaeological Congress.

Prehistory

Author: Colin Renfrew
Publisher: Random House Digital, Inc.
ISBN: 0812976614
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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In this invaluable, brief account of human development prior to the last four millennia, Colin Renfrew delivers a meticulously researched and passionately argued chronicle about our life on earth, and our ongoing quest to understand it.

How Things Shape the Mind

Author: Lambros Malafouris
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262019191
Format: PDF
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An account of the different ways in which things have become cognitive extensions of the human body, from prehistory to the present.