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Evolution and the Human Mind: Modularity, Language and Meta-Cognition Paperback – November 13, 2000

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521789080 ISBN-10: 0521789087 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...anthropological linguists who read it will be better informed about the deep questions, both historical and conceptual, that lurk behind their investigations of language and culture in the contemporary world." Anthropological Linguistics

Book Description

How did our minds evolve? Can evolutionary considerations illuminate the question of the basic architecture of the human mind? These are two of the main questions addressed in Evolution and the Human Mind by a distinguished interdisciplinary team of philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists and archaeologists. The volume will be of great interest to all researchers and students interested in the evolution and nature of the mind.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521789087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521789080
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,473,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chris Crawford on March 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I read the subtitle of this book, "Modularity, language, and meta-cognition", as well as the description, I thought it would present a scientific discussion of the interaction between archaeology, evolutionary psychology, studies of animal behavior, linguistics, and so forth. Some of this book does indeed provide such discussions. However, seven of the sixteen authors are philosophers, not scientists, and while philosophers do a good job of discussing philosophical topics, they make lousy scientists. I slogged through several of their chapters, slashing through the dense prose philosophers are wont to write, trying to find the lost treasures of meaning I was sure had to be hiding somewhere in their chapters. Alas, this intellectual Indiana Jones came up empty-handed: there was nothing of scientific value in those chapters.

This book is the end result of an interdisciplinary project organized by the University of Sheffield. They selected a distinguished group of scientists and philosophers and brought them together for a series of workshops and a final conference. The intention was to kindle some interdisciplinary fire among these disparate scholars. Unfortunately, interdisciplinary efforts such as this suffer from a terrible law of diminishing returns: the value of the end result is inversely proportional to the number of scholars multiplied by the heterogeneity of their disciplines. In other words, you can get good results by getting together a lot of scholars from closely similar backgrounds, or just a few scholars from disparate backgrounds, but otherwise, you're doomed to failure. There is no evidence in the chapters that anybody paid much attention to anybody else in the workshops.
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Evolution and the Human Mind: Modularity, Language and Meta-Cognition
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