Homo Symbolicus

The dawn of language, imagination and spirituality

| University of Bergen & University of the Witwatersrand
| University of Bordeaux I & University of Bergen
ISBN 9789027211897 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
ISBN 9789027284099 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
The emergence of symbolic culture, classically identified with the European cave paintings of the Ice Age, is now seen, in the light of recent groundbreaking discoveries, as a complex nonlinear process taking root in a remote past and in different regions of the planet. In this book the archaeologists responsible for some of these new discoveries, flanked by ethologists interested in primate cognition and cultural transmission, evolutionary psychologists modelling the emergence of metarepresentations, as well as biologists, philosophers, neuro-scientists and an astronomer combine their research findings. Their results call into question our very conception of human nature and animal behaviour, and they create epistemological bridges between disciplines that build the foundations for a novel vision of our lineage's cultural trajectory and the processes that have led to the emergence of human societies as we know them.
[Not in series, 168]  2011.  xi, 237 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
Editors’ introduction
Chapter 1. Pan symbolicus : A cultural primatologist’s viewpoint
William C. McGrew
Chapter 2. The evolution and the rise of human language: Carry the baby
E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and William M. Fields
Chapter 3. The origin of symbolically mediated behaviour: From antagonistic scenarios to a unified research strategy
Francesco d'Errico and Christopher S. Henshilwood
Chapter 4. Middle Stone Age engravings and their significance to the debate on the emergence of symbolic material culture
Christopher S. Henshilwood and Francesco d'Errico
Chapter 5. Complex cognition required for compound adhesive manufacture in the Middle Stone Age implies symbolic capacity
Lyn Wadley
Chapter 6. The emergence of language, art and symbolic thinking: A Neandertal test of competing hypotheses
João Zilhão
Chapter 7. The human major transition in relation to symbolic behaviour, including language, imagination, and spirituality
David Sloan Wilson
Chapter 8. The living as symbols, the dead as symbols: problematising the scale and pace of hominin symbolic evolution
Paul Pettitt
Chapter 9. Biology and mechanisms related to the dawn of language
George F.R. Ellis
Chapter 10. The other middle-range theories: Mapping behaviour and the evolution of the mind
Benoît Dubreuil
Chapter 11. Metarepresentation, Homo religiosus, and Homo symbolicus
Justin L. Barrett
“Generally, this edited volume is a good introduction to issues about the evolution of the modern mind. [...] The editors and contributors to this volume should be congratulated for their success in introducing novel concepts and approaches to the study of what makes modern humans unique—our brains and their cognitive baggage. But they also make it clear that modern Homo sapiens may not have been as unique as some of us paleoanthropologists would prefer.”
“The volume as a whole offers a useful interdisciplinary source for students of human evolution, reflecting well the current state of knowledge. It is written in an authoritative but accessible manner, is well edited and features excellent figures. I agree with the editors' assertion that progress critically depends on archaeological evidence brought into play in concert with palaeoenvironmental science.”
“[T]he variety of perspectives in this volume is a strength. This particular combination of ideas on the evolution of human cognition is not available anywhere else, and is a useful starting point for research into this complex topic. It is a detailed account of the list of archaeological items considered to be symbolic, with the other chapters providing stimulating and thought-provoking perspectives on the early primatological roots of language and/or symbolism, its relationship to religion and complex cognition, and its philosophical and biological context.”
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2018. The Origins of Iconic Depictions: A Falsifiable Model Derived from the Visual Science of Palaeolithic Cave Art and World Rock Art. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 28:4  pp. 591 ff. Crossref logo
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2016. Cooperation, Culture, and Conflict. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67:1  pp. 31 ff. Crossref logo
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This list is based on CrossRef data as of 10 september 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.

Subjects & Metadata


BIC Subject: JHM – Anthropology
BISAC Subject: SOC002010 – SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2011031012 | Marc record