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The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture Revised ed. Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195101072
ISBN-10: 0195101073
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"There are two kinds of landmark publications in science: those that open a new era, like Darwin's Origin of Species, or those that mark an important waypoint in a scientific revolution that has already begun. The Adapted Mind is an example of the latter, comprising as it does a collection of eighteen papers by twenty-five authors which sum up and illustrate much of the best of our knowledge in the field of evolutionary psychology." --Christopher Baddock, London School of Economics, ESS Newsletter


From the Back Cover

Although researchers have long been aware that the species-typical architecture of the human mind is the product of our evolutionary history, it has only been in the last three decades that advances in such fields as evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, and paleoanthropology have made the fact of our evolution illuminating. Converging findings from a variety of disciplines are leading to the emergence of a fundamentally new view of the human mind, and with it a new framework for the behavioral and social sciences. First, with the advent of the cognitive revolution, human nature can finally be defined precisely as the set of universal, species-typical information-processing programs that operate beneath the surface of expressed cultural variability. Second, this collection of cognitive programs evolved in the Pleistocene to solve the adaptive problems regularly faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors - problems such as mate selection, language acquisition, co-operation, and sexual infidelity. Consequently, the traditional view of the mind as a general-purpose computer, tabula rasa, or passive recipient of culture is being replaced by the view that the mind resembles an intricate network of functionally specialized computers, each of which imposes contentful structure on human mental organization and culture. The Adapted Mind explores this new approach - evolutionary psychology - and its implications for a new view of culture.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised ed. edition (October 19, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195101073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195101072
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.2 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. S. Heersink on June 10, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a massive tome on evolutionary factors that influence human behavior. It begins with clarification of the kind of Darwinism the authors appeal to, so that everyone is on the same page, and considers the general psychological foundations of Darwinism on culture.
The book then moves on to discuss cognitive adaptations for social exchange, citing human and non-human examples. The book also includes the evolutionary psychology of mating and sex, examining preferences for mate selection and competition, mechanisms for sexual attraction, and the evolutionary use of women as chattel (something any Old Testament and Quran reader can relate to).
A significant portion of the book is devoted to parental care and children, examining how pregnancy sickness, patterns between twins, maternal-infant vocalizations, and child play in the form of chasing each other are all evolutionary mechanisms that continue to be featured.
Steven Pinker adds an essay on natural language and natural selection; Roger Shepard contributes an essay on the man's perceptual adaptation to the natural world; both of which demonstrate the interconnectedness between perception, language, and adaptation.
The book concludes with some of its most esoteric issues: environmental aesthetics, intrapsychic processes, and the theoretical implications of culural phenomena.
The whole book, while not necessarily over-academic, is ultimately dense reading. Most of the concepts and conceptualizations require mental work to apprehend, while the statistics and empirical evidence are clearly described. While drawing from many disparate areas of evolutionary biology, all the essays find their ultimate significance in how the mind, in particular, has adapted to environmental forces. A demanding, but facinating, read.
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By A Customer on April 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
The argument - and it is an argument - is that human behaviour is strongly influenced by evolved psychological mechanisms, and that those mechanisms are numerous and specific, rather than just one general learning mechanism - ie a human baby comes with an installed operating system and quite a lot of free software, and is definitely not a blank slate. What makes the argument persuasive is the attempt to import the scientific method - hypotheses falsifiable by experiment - to an area previously characterised by mumbojumbo and pseudoscience. Not all the attempts are successful, but as they say it's a start. 100 years late (for psychology) it is saying (a) the brain is an organ so it must have evolved too - let's think about it in a Darwinian fashion and (b) let's try to make pyschology a science not a humanity. It is potentially very offensive to existing psychology practitioners, because it implies that most existing psychologists are witch doctors. It is also very offensive to large bodies of public policy wonks (let's not beat about the bush here - in American speak this book is very offensive to liberal Democrats), essentially saying that most of the "science" behind social and educational policy has no foundation. And because it is polemical - it is shooting at a century of vested interests after all - it overstates its case in some places, although the writers are usually very careful to stress that while behavioural programmes may be partly pre installed, behaviour itself is not hardwired.
It was the start for me of looking at the way we think in a completely different light and led me to later, more detailed, more balanced statements of the case.
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Format: Paperback
It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance and uniqueness of this work. It is without question, the most comprehensive, most authoritative, most timely, most compelling, most interdisciplinary book ever written on the topic of evolutionary psychology. Practically all the major exponents of this new science are presented and accounted for (Buss, Symons, Daly & Wilson, Tooby & Cosmides, Barkow and Kaplan). In addition, many qualified and distinguished experts in other fields have made valuable supporting contributions (McGrew, Shepard and Fernald). It already stands as a classic in the field of evolutionary psychology and is destined to be a watershed in the development of psychological thought. However, readers beware: this book is not a light, bedside read. It is dense, scholarly reading. Although enjoyable, it is not appropriate for a lay audience looking for pop-psychology. But if you are a social scientists or serious reader who wishes to know what evolutionary psychology is about, there is simply no other book to read. My only question is when can we look forward to a second volume?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What can I say? This is THE book, the apolitical manifesto, the thing that made me choose to get a PhD at Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, everything but the first chapter is illustration and example of the larger point, but if you want to debate evolutionary psychology with someone I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect your opponent to have read and understood Psychological Foundations of Culture (chapter 1).
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