Nature's Mind: The Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality, Language, and Intelligence

Nature's Mind: The Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality, Language, and Intelligence

Nature's Mind: The Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality, Language, and Intelligence

Nature's Mind: The Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality, Language, and Intelligence

Synopsis

Selection theory has revolutionized our understanding of biology, but its implications for psychology have barely been tapped. In this book, a behavioural scientist reveals the radical implications of this powerful concept for students of human behaviour.

Excerpt

In 1989 my old friend Nisson Schechter, a molecular biologist at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and a man with an enormous appetite for ideas, sent me an article by the immunologist Niels Jerne, written over twenty-five years before. Schechter assured me that the article, in which Jerne threw down a challenge to neurobiologists, was a true classic. He was right. In a crystal-clear and mercifully short essay, Jerne observed that the ideas about selection theory that had been formed in both evolutionary biology and modern immunology must be considered in the light of modern brain science. His insight there leads to an obvious next step, the relevance of selection theory to psychological and social processes. I immediately passed the article on to the smartest man in the world, Leon Festinger, who was then working on a book on medieval history. He had the same reaction, and we discussed the topic for months and decided to have a meeting about it in--why not?--Venice.

Ten outstanding biologists, neuroscientists, and cognitive scientists met to discuss the issue. Manny Scharf laid out its mechanism in immunological terms. In Black and Jean Pierre Changeux looked at molecular and cellular aspects of it. Stephen Gould discussed it from an evolutionary viewpoint. David Hubel and Wolf Singer discussed brain development. David Rumelhart looked at the issue in the light of functionalism, while Steven Pinker argued how selection theory could explain basic facts of human language. David Premack talked about comparative psychology . . .

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