The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence

The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence

The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence

The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence

Synopsis

Chapter 1 - Introduction: the limits of fossil evidence Chapter 2 - Taxonomy and the reconstruction of evolution Chapter 3 - What is intelligence and what is it for? Chapter 4 - How animals learn Chapter 5 - Why animals learn better in social groups Chapter 6 - Imitative behaviour in animals Chapter 7 - Understanding how things work Chapter 8 - Understanding minds: doing and seeing, knowing and thinking Chapter 9 - What use is a theory of mind? Chapter 10 - Planning and thinking ahead Chapter 11 - Apes and language Chapter 12 - Food for thought Chapter 13 - Machiavellian intelligence Chapter 14 - Testing the theories Chapter 15 - Taking stock

Excerpt

In one sense, 'the thinking primate' is ourselves--and me more than you, as philosophers would remind us, since we can never be sure of the private mental states of other individuals! This book, however, is about how human ancestors reached the point in cognitive evolution from which the development of modern humans was possible. Instead of speculating about the mental abilities of fossil hominids, on the basis of fragmentary remains combined with modern human psychology, it will explore earlier phases of evolution, with the more solid and testable evidence of human ancestry that is still alive: modern primates and other animals.

Setting out to write on a subject so controversial and topical as the evolutionary origins of human intelligence, I have had to face up to the fact that the result will not be free of error. Likely errors will be of two different types. First, as with any book or paper, there will be errors of fact and misinterpretations of facts. In attempting to minimize these, I have had great help from colleagues who have invested their time in reading and commenting upon drafts. My greatest debt is to Anne Russon, who has painstakingly read the entire document, making numerous invaluable suggestions. Robin Dunbar, Graham Richards, and Rob Barton have also commented upon big chunks, and Michael Booth read the entire manuscript to give an undergraduate point of view. I cannot thank these kind friends enough, for without their efforts the error rate would be higher, and the general comprehensibility lower. The problems of fact and clarity that remain, I must own up to! The second type of error will only become apparent in hindsight. In a fast-advancing field like this, it is inevitable that some of the links, deductions, extrapolations, and glosses that I have imposed on the data will turn out to be wrong-headed. To avoid this sort of error by always playing safe and avoiding risk, is likely to give a result that is dull and lifeless. I have instead tried to pick the interpretation that will turn out to be right in the end, even if the data at present don't quite force its acceptance. Where I have been aware of doing this, I have always pointed out the cracks in the interpretation; but perhaps in some places I haven't even noticed that I was not following the party line. Instead of apologizing for this, I will just hope I've been lucky enough to back winners, so my sins will never be revealed.

In a university position, with teaching and administrative commitments, I would never have completed the essential first draft that I have been revising for the last year at St Andrews: a breathing space was essential. I

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.