The Symbolic Species The Co evolution of Language and the Brain

Author: Terrence W. Deacon
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393343022
Format: PDF, Mobi
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"A work of enormous breadth, likely to pleasantly surprise both general readers and experts."—New York Times Book Review This revolutionary book provides fresh answers to long-standing questions of human origins and consciousness. Drawing on his breakthrough research in comparative neuroscience, Terrence Deacon offers a wealth of insights into the significance of symbolic thinking: from the co-evolutionary exchange between language and brains over two million years of hominid evolution to the ethical repercussions that followed man's newfound access to other people's thoughts and emotions. Informing these insights is a new understanding of how Darwinian processes underlie the brain's development and function as well as its evolution. In contrast to much contemporary neuroscience that treats the brain as no more or less than a computer, Deacon provides a new clarity of vision into the mechanism of mind. It injects a renewed sense of adventure into the experience of being human.

The Symbolic Species Evolved

Author: Theresa Schilhab
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9400723369
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This anthology is a compilation of the best contributions from Symbolic Species Conferences I, II (which took place in 2006, 2007). In 1997 the American anthropologist Terrence Deacon published The Symbolic Species: The Coevolution of Language and the Brain. The book is widely considered a seminal work in the subject of evolutionary cognition. However, Deacons book was the first step – further steps have had to be taken. The proposed anthology is such an important associate. The contributions are written by a wide variety of scholars each with a unique view on evolutionary cognition and the questions raised by Terrence Deacon - emergence in evolution, the origin of language, the semiotic 'missing link', Peirce's semiotics in evolution and biology, biosemiotics, evolutionary cognition, Baldwinian evolution, the neuroscience of linguistic capacities as well as phylogeny of the homo species, primatology, embodied cognition and knowledge types.

Human Language and Our Reptilian Brain

Author: Philip Lieberman
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674040229
Format: PDF
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This book is an entry into the fierce current debate among psycholinguists, neuroscientists, and evolutionary theorists about the nature and origins of human language. A prominent neuroscientist here takes up the Darwinian case, using data seldom considered by psycholinguists and neurolinguists to argue that human language--though more sophisticated than all other forms of animal communication--is not a qualitatively different ability from all forms of animal communication, does not require a quantum evolutionary leap to explain it, and is not unified in a single "language instinct." Using clinical evidence from speech-impaired patients, functional neuroimaging, and evolutionary biology to make his case, Philip Lieberman contends that human language is not a single separate module but a functional neurological system made up of many separate abilities. Language remains as it began, Lieberman argues: a device for coping with the world. But in a blow to human narcissism, he makes the case that this most remarkable human ability is a by-product of our remote reptilian ancestors' abilities to dodge hazards, seize opportunities, and live to see another day.

Uniquely Human

Author: Philip Lieberman
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674921832
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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In a stimulating synthesis of cognitive science, anthropology, and linguistics, Philip Lieberman tackles the fundamental questions of human nature: How and why are human beings so different from other species? Can the Darwinian theory of evolution explain human linguistic and cognitive ability? How do our processes of language and thought differ from those of Homo erectus 500,000 years ago, or of the Neanderthals 35,000 years ago? What accounts for human moral sense? Lieberman believes that evolution for rapid, efficient vocal communication forged modern human beings by creating the modern human brain. Earlier hominids lacked fully human speech and syntax, which together allow us to convey complex thoughts rapidly. The author discusses how natural selection acted on older brain mechanisms to produce a structure that can regulate the motor activity necessary for speech and command the complex syntax that enhances the creativity of human language. The unique brain mechanisms underlying human language also enhance human cognitive ability, allowing us to derive abstract concepts and to plan complex activities. These factors are necessary for the development of true altruism and moral behavior. Lieberman supports his argument about the evolution of speech and the human brain by combining the comparative method of Charles Darwin, insights from archaeology and child development, and the results of high-tech research with computerized brain scanning and computer models that can recreate speech sounds made by our ancestors over 100,000 years ago. Uniquely Human will stimulate fresh thought and controversy on the basic question of how we came to be.

Incomplete Nature How Mind Emerged from Matter

Author: Terrence W. Deacon
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393049914
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Examines the emergent processes that bridge the gap between organisms that think and have consciousness and those that do not and discusses the origins of life, information, and free will.

Language and Species

Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226046112
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Language and Species presents the most detailed and well-documented scenario to date of the origins of language. Drawing on "living linguistic fossils" such as "ape talk," the "two-word" stage of small children, and pidgin languages, and on recent discoveries in paleoanthropology, Bickerton shows how a primitive "protolanguage" could have offered Homo erectus a novel ecological niche. He goes on to demonstrate how this protolanguage could have developed into the languages we speak today. "You are drawn into [Bickerton's] appreciation of the dominant role language plays not only in what we say, but in what we think and, therefore, what we are."—Robert Wright, New York Times Book Review "The evolution of language is a fascinating topic, and Bickerton's Language and Species is the best introduction we have."—John C. Marshall, Nature

Principles of Neural Design

Author: Peter Sterling
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262028700
Format: PDF, ePub
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Two distinguished neuroscientists distil general principles from more than a century of scientific study, "reverse engineering" the brain to understand its design.

A Mind So Rare

Author: Merlin Donald
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393323191
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Presenting the cultural and neuronal forces that power our distinctively human modes of awareness, the author proposes that the human mind is a hybrid product of interweaving a super-complex form of matter (the brain) with an invisible symbolic web (culture) to form a cognitive network. Reprint. 11,500 first printing.

Language and Social Relations

Author: Asif Agha
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521576857
Format: PDF
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Provides a way of accounting for the relationship between language and a variety of social phenomena.

The Linguistics Wars

Author: Randy Allen Harris
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199839069
Format: PDF, Docs
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When it was first published in 1957, Noam Chomsky's Syntactic Structure seemed to be just a logical expansion of the reigning approach to linguistics. Soon, however, there was talk from Chomsky and his associates about plumbing mental structure; then there was a new phonology; and then there was a new set of goals for the field, cutting it off completely from its anthropological roots and hitching it to a new brand of psychology. Rapidly, all of Chomsky's ideas swept the field. While the entrenched linguists were not looking for a messiah, apparently many of their students were. There was a revolution, which colored the field of linguistics for the following decades. Chomsky's assault on Bloomfieldianism (also known as American Structuralism) and his development of Transformational-Generative Grammar was promptly endorsed by new linguistic recruits swelling the discipline in the sixties. Everyone was talking of a scientific revolution in linguistics, and major breakthroughs seemed imminent, but something unexpected happened--Chomsky and his followers had a vehement and public falling out. In The Linguistic Wars, Randy Allen Harris tells how Chomsky began reevaluating the field and rejecting the extensions his students and erstwhile followers were making. Those he rejected (the Generative Semanticists) reacted bitterly, while new students began to pursue Chomsky's updated vision of language. The result was several years of infighting against the backdrop of the notoriously prickly sixties. The outcome of the dispute, Harris shows, was not simply a matter of a good theory beating out a bad one. The debates followed the usual trajectory of most large-scale clashes, scientific or otherwise. Both positions changed dramatically in the course of the dispute--the triumphant Chomskyan position was very different from the initial one; the defeated generative semantics position was even more transformed. Interestingly, important features of generative semantics have since made their way into other linguistic approaches and continue to influence linguistics to this very day. And fairly high up on the list of borrowers is Noam Chomsky himself. The repercussions of the Linguistics Wars are still with us, not only in the bruised feelings and late-night war stories of the combatants, and in the contentious mood in many quarters, but in the way linguists currently look at language and the mind. Full of anecdotes and colorful portraits of key personalities, The Linguistics Wars is a riveting narrative of the course of an important intellectual controversy, and a revealing look into how scientists and scholars contend for theoretical glory.