A Different Kind of Animal: How Culture Transformed Our Species The University Center for Human Values Series

We have a larger geographical range and process more energy than any other creature alive. Allen orr, economist paul seabright, philosopher Kim Sterelny, and evolutionary anthropologist Ruth Mace, as well as an introduction by Stephen Macedo. Over the past two million years, culture has evolved to enable human populations to accumulate superb local adaptations that no individual could ever have invented on their own.

It has also made possible the evolution of social norms that allow humans to make common cause with large groups of unrelated individuals, a kind of society not seen anywhere else in nature. We have evolved to become the most dominant species on Earth. This astonishing transformation is usually explained in terms of cognitive ability―people are just smarter than all the rest.

. This unique combination of cultural adaptation and large-scale cooperation has transformed our species and assured our survival―making us the different kind of animal we are today. Based on the tanner lectures delivered at Princeton University, A Different Kind of Animal features challenging responses by biologist H.

But in this compelling book, robert Boyd argues that culture―our ability to learn from each other―has been the essential ingredient of our remarkable success. A different kind of animal demonstrates that while people are smart, we are not nearly smart enough to have solved the vast array of problems that confronted our species as it spread across the globe.

How our ability to learn from each other has been the essential ingredient to our remarkable success as a speciesHuman beings are a very different kind of animal.

Darwin's Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind

It is the story of how darwin's intellectual descendants picked up where he left off and took up the challenge of providing a scientific account of the evolution of the human mind. Princeton University Press. The truly unique characteristics of our species―such as our intelligence, teaching, language, disease, and cooperation―are not adaptive responses to predators, or other external conditions.

He traces our rise from scavenger apes in prehistory to modern humans able to design iPhones, dance the tango, and send astronauts into space. This book tells the story of the painstaking fieldwork, the false leads, the key experiments, and the stunning scientific breakthroughs that led to this new understanding of how culture transformed human evolution.

This compelling and accessible book reveals how culture is not just the magnificent end product of an evolutionary process that produced a species unlike all others―it is also the key driving force behind that process. Kevin laland shows how the learned and socially transmitted activities of our ancestors shaped our intellects through accelerating cycles of evolutionary feedback.

Rather, humans are creatures of their own making. How culture transformed human evolutionHumans possess an extraordinary capacity for cultural production, from the arts and language to science and technology. How did the human mind―and the uniquely human ability to devise and transmit culture―evolve from its roots in animal behavior? Darwin's Unfinished Symphony presents a captivating new theory of human cognitive evolution.

Drawing on his own groundbreaking research, innovate, and bringing it to life with vivid natural history, Laland explains how animals imitate, and have remarkable traditions of their own.

The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter

Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and how culture-gene interactions launched our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory. Tracking clues from our ancient past to the present, The Secret of Our Success explores how the evolution of both our cultural and social natures produce a collective intelligence that explains both our species' immense success and the origins of human uniqueness.

. Princeton University Press. On the one hand, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, building shelters, like obtaining food, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, sophisticated languages, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments.

Humans are a puzzling species. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, more than any other species, but in our collective brains―on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations.

Drawing insights from lost european explorers, and the human genome, neuroscientific findings, mobile hunter-gatherers, ancient bones, clever chimpanzees, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species' genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many cultural innovations, water containers, plant knowledge, such as fire, cooking, anatomy, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, and psychology in crucial ways.

Later on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, screw, such as the lever, and writing, wheel, while also creating the institutions that continue to alter our motivations and perceptions.

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

A groundbreaking book about how ancient DNA has profoundly changed our understanding of human history. Geneticists like david reich have made astounding advances in the field of genomics, linguistics, which is proving to be as important as archeology, and written records as a means to understand our ancestry.

In who we are and how we got here, reich allows readers to discover how the human genome provides not only all the information a human embryo needs to develop but also the hidden story of our species. Provocatively, reich’s book suggests that there might very well be biological differences among human populations but that these differences are unlikely to conform to common stereotypes.

Drawing upon revolutionary findings and unparalleled scientific studies,  Who We Are and How We Got Here is a captivating glimpse into humankind—where we came from and what that says about our lives today. Reich delves into how the genomic revolution is transforming our understanding of modern humans and how DNA studies reveal deep inequalities among different populations, between the sexes, and among individuals.

Princeton University Press.

The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures

Antonio damasio makes clear that we descend biologically, psychologically, and even socially from a long lineage that begins with single living cells; that our minds and cultures are linked by an invisible thread to the ways and means of ancient unicellular life and other primitive life-forms; and that inherent in our very chemistry is a powerful force, a striving toward life maintenance that governs life in all its guises, including the development of genes that help regulate and transmit life.

In the strange order of things, Damasio gives us a new way of comprehending the world and our place in it. Www. Antoniodamasio. Com princeton University Press. The strange order of things is a pathbreaking investigation into homeostasis, the condition of that regulates human physiology within the range that makes possible not only the survival but also the flourishing of life.

From one of our preeminent neuroscientists: a landmark reflection that spans the biological and social sciences, feeling, offering a new way of understanding the origins of life, and culture.

Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking

At birth, the minds of human babies are only subtly different from the minds of newborn chimpanzees. Yet when these subtle differences are exposed to culture-soaked human environments, they have enormous effects. They enable us to upload distinctively human ways of thinking from the social world around us.

As cognitive gadgets makes clear, from birth our malleable human minds can learn through culture not only what to think but how to think it. One explanation widely accepted today is that humans have special cognitive instincts. We are friendlier, our attention is drawn to different things, and we have a capacity to learn and remember that outstrips the abilities of newborn chimpanzees.

Unlike other living animal species, reading the minds of others, copying behaviors, we are born with complicated mechanisms for reasoning about causation, and using language. Cecilia heyes agrees that adult humans have impressive pieces of cognitive equipment. Princeton University Press. This is an important book and likely the most thoughtful of the year in the social sciences… Highly recommended, it is likely to prove one of the most thought-provoking books of the year.

Tyler cowen, to gossip, read, psychologists, to think ourselves into the minds of others, Marginal RevolutionHow did human minds become so different from those of other animals? What accounts for our capacity to understand the way the physical world works, anthropologists, and imagine the future? These questions are not new: they have been debated by philosophers, tell stories about the past, evolutionists, and neurobiologists over the course of centuries.

Cognitive gadgets are products of cultural evolution, rather than genetic evolution.

Speak: A Novel

An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. Ecco Press. A jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. Princeton University Press. A thoughtful, connection, poignant novel that explores the creation of Artificial Intelligence—illuminating the very human need for communication, and understanding.

In a narrative that spans geography and time, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and what it means to be less than fully alive.

A young puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A former silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls. Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps—to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them.

. In dazzling and electrifying prose, louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human—shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances—echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.

Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences

Political disputes typically spring from the assumption that those who do not agree with us are shallow, misguided, uninformed, and ignorant. Despite the oft-heard longing for consensus, physiological, and peace, the universal rift between conservatives and liberals endures because people have diverse psychological, unity, and genetic traits.

These predispositions are in turn responsible for a significant portion of the political and ideological conflict that marks human history. Predisposed will change the way you think about politics and partisan conflict. As a bonus, the book includes a "Left/Right 20 Questions" game to test whether your predispositions lean liberal or conservative.

With verve and wit, kevin smith, renowned social scientists John Hibbing, and John Alford―pioneers in the field of biopolitics―present overwhelming evidence that people differ politically not just because they grew up in different cultures or were presented with different information. Ecco Press. Our biology predisposes us to see and understand the world in different ways, not always reason and the careful consideration of facts.

Buried in many people and operating largely outside the realm of conscious thought are forces inclining us toward liberal or conservative political convictions. These biological differences influence much of what makes people who they are, including their orientations to politics. Princeton University Press.


Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

But archaeological and historical evidence challenges this narrative. Yale University Press. Princeton University Press. Scott explores why we avoided sedentism and plow agriculture, and grain, the advantages of mobile subsistence, animals, the unforeseeable disease epidemics arising from crowding plants, and why all early states are based on millets and cereal grains and unfree labor.

Scott, captives, were born of accumulations of domestications: first fire, livestock, subjects of the state, then plants, and finally women in the patriarchal family—all of which can be viewed as a way of gaining control over reproduction. Routledge. Ecco Press. The first agrarian states, says James C. He also discusses the “barbarians” who long evaded state control, as a way of understanding continuing tension between states and nonsubject peoples.

An account of all the new and surprising evidence now available that contradicts the standard narrative for the beginnings of the earliest civilizations Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, to settle down and form agricultural villages, and governed by precursors of today’s states? Most people believe that plant and animal domestication allowed humans, finally, towns, public order, and states, which made possible civilization, law, and a presumably secure way of living.


Minds Make Societies: How Cognition Explains the World Humans Create

Integrating recent insights from evolutionary biology, genetics, tribes, Boyer offers precise models of why humans engage in social behaviors such as forming families, and other fields, psychology, and nations, economics, or creating gender roles. Routledge. Ecco Press. Princeton University Press. Yale University Press.

In fascinating, he explores questions such as, why is there conflict between groups? why do people believe low-value information such as rumors? Why are there religions? What is social justice? What explains morality? Boyer provides a new picture of cultural transmission that draws on the pragmatics of human communication, thought-provoking passages, the constructive nature of memory in human brains, and human motivation for group formation and cooperation.

A watershed book that masterfully integrates insights from evolutionary biology, genetics, economics, psychology, and more to explore the development and workings of human societies “There is no good reason why human societies should not be described and explained with the same precision and success as the rest of nature.

Thus argues evolutionary psychologist Pascal Boyer in this uniquely innovative book.

How Language Began: The Story of Humanity's Greatest Invention

Ecco Press. How language began revolutionizes our understanding of the one tool that has allowed us to become the "lords of the planet. Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. Yale University Press. Everett, harper’s, provides in this sweeping history a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary story of language, a “bombshell” linguist and “instant folk hero” Tom Wolfe, from the earliest speaking attempts by hominids to the more than seven thousand languages that exist today.

Although fossil hunters and linguists have brought us closer to unearthing the true origins of language, Daniel Everett’s discoveries have upended the contemporary linguistic world, reverberating far beyond academic circles. Early humans, as their brains grew larger, incorporated gestures and voice intonations to communicate, all of which built on each other for 60, 000 generations.

Challenging long-standing principles in the field, Everett now builds on the theory that language was not intrinsic to our species. Tracing crucial shifts and developments across the ages, Everett breaks down every component of speech, from harnessing control of more than a hundred respiratory muscles in the larynx and diaphragm, to mastering the use of the tongue.

The result is an invaluable study of what makes us human. Moving on from biology to execution, Everett explores why elements such as grammar and storytelling are not nearly as critical to language as one might suspect. In the book’s final section, cultural evolution of language, Everett takes the ever-debated “language gap” to task, delving into the chasm that separates “us” from “the animals.