The Evolution of Human Behavior

By Carl J. Warden | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER I
SOME PROBLEMS OF HUMAN EVOLUTION

THE problem of human origins has long been a central one in the endeavor of mankind to understand the nature of the universe. No one can say just when our ancestral forbears, in the evolutionary sense, first turned to reflection and began to be curious as to how they came to exist as men. However, it must have been at some exceedingly remote epoch in the past--long before the dawn of the historical period. This is indicated by the fact that a general interest in this problem is reflected in the earliest mythology of which we have any account. The creation legend, with its usual naïve explanation of the origin of man, must be regarded as being among the oldest and most widespread fragments of primitive folklore. How early such myths were invented no one can tell. For, as they come to us, they are already hoary with age, and represent miscellaneous accretions from the untold millennia of earlier folk life.

The problem of human origins retained its position of dominance when man finally began to doubt the ancient myths and to observe the facts of life in the light of reason. The early Greek thinkers were among the first to cast aside the authority of the legend. Their speculations regarding the origin of man and his culture as a part of the natural order marked the first important beginnings of the scientific approach to the problem. As might have

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