The apparent differences between humans and apes are not biologically fixed, but they are biologically and culturally instantiated. Differences in maternal care patterns, which human and bonobo infants experience from the moment of birth forward, are responsible for the many of the behavioral distinctions that later emerge between the species. They are culturally instantiated and are open to change at any time. From these caregiver patterns emerge the different styles of human/ape consciousness.
Continue reading Human Language—Human Consciousness
Two Framing Ideas About Human Evolution.
Human evolutionary change has been rapid and extensive; so much so that the genetic similarity and recent divergence between the human and the chimp lineages came as a profound surprise. Three million years ago humans were relatively minor elements of a rich East African mammalian fauna. Since then, our
Continue reading The Evolved Apprentice
In “The Metaphysician’s Nightmare”, Bertrand Russell described a Hell in which there is a special torment for practitioners of each branch of scholarly inquiry. In the place in Hell reserved for statisticians, for example, a pack of monkeys walk aimlessly and endlessly on typewriters, each time creating a perfect rendition of a Shakespearean sonnet. Our
Continue reading Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?
Darwin’s radical new history of the world did not give a central place to the human. It challenged human exceptionalism and emphasised what was shared, across all organisms extant and extinct. He thought of himself initially as a geologist, so was constantly alert to the ghosting presence of past life forms, visible now only as
Continue reading Late Darwin and the Problem of the Human
This is a précis of an argument that I developed in an article called “Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?” The article was published in 2009 and may be found on my web set at http://philosophy.wisc.edu/sober/recent.html. An expanded version of the argument is the first chapter of a book that I’m publishing at the end
Continue reading Common Ancestry and Natural Selection in Darwin’s Origin