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
A trans-species perspective is an all-encompassing stance towards nature that embraces the continuity and comparability of all species’ lives. It shapes the way we view ourselves in relation to other animals and involves changing our current model of those relationships from one of separation and condescension to one of communalism and respect. Given the mass extinctions, global destruction of habitat, environmental degradation, and continued mass exploitation of other animals, nothing short of a shift in human psychological perspective is needed to turn things around.
Continue reading A Trans-Species Perspective on Nature
Pretty much everyone agrees that some activities in the brain are never conscious. For example, it would be hard to find researches who think there can be conscious events in the cerebellum. Most researchers nowadays also deny that there can be conscious events in subcortical structures, though there is an occasional plea for the thalamus or the reticular formation. But what about the neocortex? Is any activity in that folded carapace a candidate for conscious experience? Does each cortical neuron vie for the conscious spotlight, like the contestants on a televised talent show?
Continue reading Does Consciousness Outstrip Sensation?
All around us information seems to be multiplying at an ever increasing pace. New books are published, new designs for toasters and i-gadgets appear, new music is composed or synthesised and, perhaps above all, new content is uploaded into cyberspace. This is rather strange. We know that matter and energy cannot increase but apparently information
Continue reading Temes: An Emerging Third Replicator
I have been studying the same group of monkeys, known as northern muriquis, in a small forest in southeastern Brazil for nearly 28 years. When I began my research they were called Brachyteles arachnoides. Subsequently, and within the lifetimes of many of the individuals in my original study group, they were reclassified as a new
Continue reading The Challenge of Comparisons in Primatology
Since Darwin’s time, the human language capacity has been a perennially cited paragon of extreme complexity that defies the explanatory powers of natural selection. And it is not just critics of Darwinism who have argued that this most distinctive human capacity is problematic. Alfred Russel Wallace—the co-discoverer of natural selection theory and in many
Continue reading On the Human: Rethinking the natural selection of human language