How Homo Became Sapiens: On the Evolution of Thinking

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2012, pp. 1 - 252
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© Peter Gärdenfors, 2006. All rights reserved. Our ability to think is one of our most puzzling characteristics. What would it be like to be unable to think? What would it be like to lack self-awareness? The complexity of this activity is striking. Thinking involves the interaction of a range of mental processes - attention, emotion, memory, planning, self-consciousness, free will, and language. So where did these processes arise? What evolutionary advantages were bestowed upon those with an ability to deceive, to plan, to empathize, or to understand the intentions of others? In this compelling work, the author embarks on an evolutionary detective story to try and solve one of the big mysteries surrounding human existence - how has the modern human being's way of thinking come into existence? He starts by taking in turn the more basic cognitive processes, such as attention and memory, then builds upon these to explore more complex behaviours, such as self-consciousness, mindreading, and imitation. Having done this, he examines the consequences of 'putting thought into the world', using external media like cave paintings, drawings and writing.
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