Brief History of the Mind: From Apes to Intellect and Beyond

Brief History of the Mind: From Apes to Intellect and Beyond

by William H. Calvin
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195182480

ISBN-13: 9780195182484

Pub. Date: 10/01/2005

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

This book looks back at the simpler versions of mental life in apes, Neanderthals, and our ancestors, back before our burst of creativity started 50,000 years ago. When you can't think about the future in much detail, you are trapped in a here-and-now existence with no "What if?" and "Why me?" William H. Calvin takes stock of what we have now

Overview

This book looks back at the simpler versions of mental life in apes, Neanderthals, and our ancestors, back before our burst of creativity started 50,000 years ago. When you can't think about the future in much detail, you are trapped in a here-and-now existence with no "What if?" and "Why me?" William H. Calvin takes stock of what we have now and then explains why we are nearing a crossroads, where mind shifts gears again.
The mind's big bang came long after our brain size stopped enlarging. Calvin suggests that the development of long sentences—what modern children do in their third year—was the most likely trigger. To keep a half-dozen concepts from blending together like a summer drink, you need some mental structuring. In saying "I think I saw him leave to go home," you are nesting three sentences inside a fourth. We also structure plans, play games with rules, create structured music and chains of logic, and have a fascination with discovering how things hang together. Our long train of connected thoughts is why our consciousness is so different from what came before.
Where does mind go from here, its powers extended by science-enhanced education but with its slowly evolving gut instincts still firmly anchored in the ice ages? We will likely shift gears again, juggling more concepts and making decisions even faster, imagining courses of action in greater depth. Ethics are possible only because of a human level of ability to speculate, judge quality, and modify our possible actions accordingly. Though science increasingly serves as our headlights, we are out-driving them, going faster than we can react effectively.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195182484
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/01/2005
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Prefacexiii
Some Stage-setting Perspectivexix
1When Chimpanzees Think: The way we were, 7 million years ago?3
2Upright Posture but Ape-sized Brains: In the woodland between forest and savanna15
3Triple Startups about 2.5 Million Years Ago: Flickering climate, toolmaking, and bigger brains23
4Homo erectus Ate Well: Adding more meat to the diet fueled the first Out of Africa33
5The Second Brain Boom: What kicked in, about 750,000 years ago?45
6Neanderthals and Our Pre-sapiens Ancestors: Two-stage toolmaking and what it says about thought53
7Homo sapiens without the Modern Mind: The big brain but not much to show for it61
8Structured Thought Finally Appears: The curb-cut principle and emerging higher intellectual function83
9From Africa to Everywhere: Was the still-full-of-bugs prototype what spread around the world?107
10How Creativity Manages the Mixups: Higher intellectual function and the search for coherence127
11Civilizing Ourselves: From planting to writing to mind medicine139
12What's Sudden About the Mind's Big Bang?: The moderns somehow got their act together151
13Imagining the House of Cards: Inventing new levels of organization on the fly161
14The Future of the Augmented Mind: A combustible mixture of ignorance and power?171
Afterword191
Recommended Reading193
Notes197
Index207

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