Monday, February 03, 2014

Evolutionary psychology - some interim concepts

Various meanders and exploration of literature on learning a trade  has led to encounter with a few books on evolutionary psychology.

So this post offers some brief book summaries and impressions .

First up, Before the dawn: recovering the lost history of our ancestors, by Nicolas Ward. Reviewed with some summaries here
This book lays out the evolutionary path taken by our ancestors with emphasis on how our genetical heritage evolved. Of importance is the work completed over the last several decades whereby learning on genetics confirms the ‘out of Africa’ theory. Our ancestors evolved over many millennium in Africa and due to hypothesised climate change 50,000 years ago gradually migrated out to inhabit the whole world. Therefore, there was a bit of a genetical bottleneck back then. Africans have the most varied genome. Whereas all other ‘races’ have much less diversity. 

Secondly, the evolved apprentice by Kim Sterelny, to be summarised in next week’s blog. This is the book that started my explorations into evolutionary psychology.

The evolved apprentice has several references to Professor Sterelny's previous book, Thoughts in a hostile world: The evolution of human cognition. This book discusses the various ways in which humans’ hunter and gatherer lifestyle, led to the development of how we now learn, behave, cooperate, make decisions etc. Examples from studies of primates are used to understand some of the roots for human behaviours and practices. Two theories are discussed in detail through the book: - social intelligence hypothesis and  massive modularity hypothesis. Both concepts still areas of contention, so critique of social intelligence found here and massive modularity, here.Thoughts in a hostile world does layout the arguments for evolutionary psychology approaches and the book provides a good overview and introduction to the subject.

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