Cover: More than Nature Needs: Language, Mind, and Evolution, from Harvard University PressCover: More than Nature Needs in HARDCOVER

More than Nature Needs

Language, Mind, and Evolution

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$41.00 • £32.95 • €37.00

ISBN 9780674724907

Publication Date: 01/13/2014

Text

336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 line illustration, 3 tables

World

The human mind is an unlikely evolutionary adaptation. How did humans acquire cognitive capacities far more powerful than anything a hunting-and-gathering primate needed to survive? Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of evolutionary theory, saw humans as “divine exceptions” to natural selection. Darwin thought use of language might have shaped our sophisticated brains, but his hypothesis remained an intriguing guess—until now. Combining state-of-the-art research with forty years of writing and thinking about language evolution, Derek Bickerton convincingly resolves a crucial problem that both biology and the cognitive sciences have hitherto ignored or evaded.

What evolved first was neither language nor intelligence—merely normal animal communication plus displacement. That was enough to break restrictions on both thought and communication that bound all other animals. The brain self-organized to store and automatically process its new input, words. But words, which are inextricably linked to the concepts they represent, had to be accessible to consciousness. The inevitable consequence was a cognitive engine able to voluntarily merge both thoughts and words into meaningful combinations. Only in a third phase could language emerge, as humans began to tinker with a medium that, when used for communication, was adequate for speakers but suboptimal for hearers.

Starting from humankind’s remotest past, More than Nature Needs transcends nativist thesis and empiricist antithesis by presenting a revolutionary synthesis—one that instead of merely repeating “nature and nurture” clichés shows specifically and in a principled manner how and why the synthesis came about.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound, by Daphne A. Brooks, from Harvard University Press

“Everything I Wanted”: Black Women Listeners and the High Fidelity Culture of Taste-Making

Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound, praises Hulu’s High Fidelity series, whose main characters are creative, intelligent Black women who are passionate about music and confident in their tastes and opinions. Where are the other shows like it?