Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human by Kevin N. Laland

By Kevin N. Laland

How tradition reworked human evolution

Humans own a unprecedented skill for cultural creation, from the humanities and language to technology and know-how. How did the human mind--and the uniquely human skill to plot and transmit culture--evolve from its roots in animal habit? Darwin's Unfinished Symphony provides a charming new idea of human cognitive evolution. This compelling and obtainable ebook unearths how tradition isn't just the fantastic finish made from an evolutionary strategy that produced a species not like all others--it is additionally the major motive force in the back of that process.

Kevin Laland exhibits how the realized and socially transmitted actions of our ancestors formed our intellects via accelerating cycles of evolutionary suggestions. The actually designated features of our species--such as our intelligence, language, instructing, and cooperation--are no longer adaptive responses to predators, sickness, or different exterior stipulations. quite, people are creatures in their personal making. Drawing on his personal groundbreaking examine, and bringing it to lifestyles with shiny ordinary background, Laland explains how animals imitate, innovate, and feature outstanding traditions in their personal. He strains our upward push from scavenger apes in prehistory to fashionable people in a position to layout iPhones, dance the tango, and ship astronauts into space.

This ebook tells the tale of the painstaking fieldwork, the major experiments, the fake leads, and the beautiful clinical breakthroughs that ended in this new knowing of the way tradition remodeled human evolution. it's the tale of the way Darwin's highbrow descendants picked up the place he left off and took up the problem of delivering a systematic account of the evolution of the human mind.

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Additional info for Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind

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Explanations based on cultural evolution,2 whereby competition between cultural traits generates changes in behavior and technology,3 can only begin to be considered satisfactory with clarification of how minds capable of generating complex culture evolved in the first place. Yet, as later chapters in this book reveal, our species’ most cherished intellectual faculties were themselves fashioned in a whirlpool of coevolutionary feedbacks in which culture played a vital role. Indeed, my central argument is that no single prime mover is responsible for the evolution of the human mind.

I see telegraph poles and electricity pylons. I look south, and in the distance is a school, and just to the west, a hospital fed by roads dotted with busy commuters. I wonder, can evolutionary biology explain the existence of chimneys, cars, and electricity in as convincing a fashion as it does the natural world? Can it describe the origin of prayer books and church choirs, as it does the origin of species? Is there an evolutionary explanation for the computer on which I type, for the satellites in the sky, or for the scientific concept of gravity?

Think of the businesses that had to make the tools, nuts, bolts, screws, washers, paint, and windowpanes. Imagine the people who designed the tools; smelted the iron; logged the trees; and made the paper, ink, and plastic. So it goes on, endlessly, in a voracious multidimensional expansion. All of those interactions, that endless web of exchanges, transactions, and cooperative endeavors—the vast majority carried out by unrelated individuals on the basis of promises of future remuneration—had to function for the school to be built.

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