Comparative Cognition

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Citations related to PRIMITIVE COGNITION and to the ORIGIN OF KNOWING (works cited listed at bottom):


“Cognition is useful in an environment which is characterized by:

(i) variability with respect to distal conditions that make a difference to the organism’s well-being, and by
(ii) stability with respect to relations between these distal conditions and proximal and observable conditions.”
Godfrey-Smith, Peter. Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. Cambridge University Press. 1996. p. 118.


“In the social domain, primates, but not other mammals, understand something of the third-party social relationships that hold among other individuals; for example, they understand such things as the kinship and dominance relations that third parties have with one another.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 17.


“In their natural habitats, nonhuman primates:
$ do not point or gesture to outside objects for others;
$ do not hold objects up to show them to others;
$ do not try to bring others to locations so that they can observe things there;
$ do not actively offer objects to other individuals by holding them out;
$ do not intentionally teach other individuals new behaviors.

“They do not do these things, in my view, because they do not understand that the conspecific has intentional and mental states that can potentially be affected. The most plausible hypothesis is thus that nonhuman primates understand conspecifics as animate beings capable of spontaneous self-movement–indeed, this is the basis for their social understanding in general and their understanding of third-party social relationships in particular–but do not understand others as intentional agents in the process of pursuing goals or mental agents in the process of thinking about the world.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 21.


“Nonhuman primates understand many antecedent-consequent relations in the world, but they do not seem to understand causal forces as mediating these relations.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 22.


“A number of more recent writers have made a general distinction between instructive and selective mechanisms of change and adaptation. An instructive mechanism is one in which the environment interacts with the organism in a way that brings about a specific organic change. A selective mechanism is one in which variants are produced by the organism in an undirected way and are then subject to environmental selection.” Godfrey-Smith, Peter. Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. Cambridge University Press. 1996. p. 87.


“‘The organism which adjusts its behaviour to circumstances, but which does so in a rigidly pre-programmed way, has a first order property of complexity in its behaviour.

“‘Such an organism is inflexible in contrast to an organism which is able to modify its behaviour profile in the light of experience, an organism which modifies what behaviour it is that is produced in the presence of a given condition.... This is a second order property of complexity.’

“However, second order complexity is satisfied trivially by an organism with substantial first order complexity. A fish that changes sex in response to size cues will change its behavioural profile too: other stimuli will induce new responses. I have defended the idea that cognitive representation requires more than complex response to a single specific proximal stimulus. Ant hygiene, for example, is switched on by a specific proximal stimulus, oleic acid. Contrast the ant with the anti-predation responses of ravens, who recognise both different dangers, and the same danger through different cues. An organism that genuinely represents a given feature of its world must have several informational routes to that feature. There must be multiple channels between mind and world; organisms so equipped get behavioural feedback.” Sterelny, Kim. The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays. Cambridge University Press. 2001. pp. 191-2. Subquote is from Godfrey-Smith, Peter. Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. Cambridge University Press. 1996. pp. 25-6.


“So what then are representational biofunctions? They are internal states which do not just have as an effect the detection of features of the environment; they have that effect by design. That internal state is there because, often enough, tokens of the same type enabled its ancestors to respond to that feature in ways that advantaged them by comparison with their less responsive conspecifics. So what is it to represent a state of the environment, as distinct from merely reacting by design to a proximal stimulus? It is for there to be sufficient variety in proximal routes, and sufficient stability of distal sources, for the organism’s adaptive reaction to the environmental feature to be robust.” Sterelny, Kim. The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays. Cambridge University Press. 2001. p. 211.


“Intentional systems may not form a natural kind, but evolutionary theory alone does not tell us so. Moreover, our cognitive capacities are striking in at least the following respects:

“1. Our representational capacities are neither stimulus bound nor restricted to a few predetermined domains.
“2. Our cognitive development relies on advanced social learning. It has still not been decisively demonstrated that other animals can use their peers’ behaviour as a model. We can learn not just by imitation but from others’ representations.
“3. We are strategic agents. We are very adept at predicting the behaviour of other agents, even in novel circumstances and even when their behaviour varies from its previous pattern. We can, for example, anticipate opponents learning from their mistakes.” Sterelny, Kim. The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays. Cambridge University Press. 2001. pp. 222-3.


“I have used the idea of situated agency to stalk the shift from these simple systems to more complex ones in which organisms can ‘see through’ variant or misleading proximal stimuli to the relevant features of their environment, through having the capacity to track particular features of their environment in more than one way. In translucent worlds there is a complex relationship between incoming stimuli that the organism can detect and the features it needs to know about. In these worlds there is selection for representation not just detection.” Sterelny, Kim. The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays. Cambridge University Press. 2001. p. 247.


“Hence I think more complex behaviour evolves at least in three ways: (i) increasing information about the world, including information not given in immediate perception, liberates behaviour from stimulus control, making behaviour less predictable given only information about a creature’s immediate environment; (ii) the need for independent initiating and halting criteria, and more generally the demands of feedback, require animals to multi-track both their own internal states and changes in those states and their environment; and (iii) behaviour becomes more complex as metabolic motivators become relevant to more than one element of their behavioural repertoires. Under such conditions, control becomes less discrete, less modular.” Sterelny, Kim. The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays. Cambridge University Press. 2001. pp. 253-4.


“Chimpanzees, at least these two well-trained ones, have difficulties solving a task that requires them to inhibit one response in favor of another, more favorable response.” Hauser, Marc D. Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think. 2000. Henry Holt & Company. p. 60.


“I suggest corresponding changes in behavior that might have enhanced versatile all-group responses to various unpredictable challenges. Such social and mental versatility would have undermined the more genetically fixed responses of a species in possession of an ecological niche that existed within relatively predictable limits. Step by step, the predetermined behavior of a species with a single niche must have given way to the new competences of a species that could acquire multiple niches through an ever-expanding armory of technology, techniques, and eventually systems of communication to back them up.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 5.


“One of the most striking and surprising peculiarities of equatorial African fauna and flora is the frequency with which forest and nonforest species form pairs. Among plants, amphibians, birds and mammals, there are forest species whose closest relative is not another forest-adapted species but a nonforest sibling. These animals and plants apparently owe their primary success to adaptations that are not overwhelmingly governed by the weather. Free of such confining constraints, they would seem to have responded to past oscillations of climate by evolving sibling species so that one or other form can take advantage of whatever climatic phase is currently dominant.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. Pps.10-1.


“Furthermore, the development of what we like to call cleverness must have been equally subject to incremental change and equally tied in to selection for a particular type of mental versatility. A step-by-step improvement in cleverness must have involved change in quite separate sensory, motor, physiological, and behavioral, mental, and neural skills. Each of these modifications must have had its own ecological and behavioral contexts. So while this book does not set out to examine the evolution of intelligence, I share with others the conviction that many parallels must have existed between physical and mental development. Staged changes in ecology and behavior must have corresponded with piecemeal changes in the way in which evolving humans constructed mental models of the world or worlds in which they found themselves. These would have included literal ‘models’ (including the physical constructs we call tools) whereby they could eke out a living through their own and their social group’s actions.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P.33.


“There is something of a consensus that four elements–temperature, light levels, metabolism, and trees (particularly light and temperature)–were releveant for mammal emergence. Today, mammals remain predominantly nocturnal and can maintain body temperatures of about 37° C under a range of fluctuating external temperatures, with metabolic rates that can be 25 times that of a reptile.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 42.


“If the niches avoided by reptiles have always tended to cluster around cooler parts of the world with cooler nights, cooler seasons, higher altitudes, and shadier habitats, it is most likely that these were the conditions that would have most favored the emergence of mammals.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 42.


“The finer branches and their foliage comprise, by volume, a high proportion of the trees’ occupation of space and the greater part of any forest habitat. Fruit and flowers are most often borne here, and the foliage also attracts and sustains great numbers of small invertebrates. This is a difficult but potentially rewarding habitat for any animal that can subsist off small fruit, flowers, buds, or invertebrates. It requires small size, a relatively energetic lifestyle, and the ability to clamber, scurry, crawl (and occasionally leap) through layers of twigs and foliage. The main competitors, as well as predators, are flying animals.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 54.


“It might be thought that the prior existence of birds and reptiles would have been sufficient disincentive to becoming diurnal, yet some birds, bats, and reptiles were probably already nocturnal, already sources of significant competition or predation, even at night. Yet three factors could have been influential for the night-day crossover. First, night primates had had many millions of years to become proficient foragers for invertebrate prey that typically would have belonged to such types as were vulnerable to certain arboreal mammalian traits. These assets might have included the primates’ relatively stealthy movements (followed by fast strikes); thorough visual, auditory, and olfactory inspections; and the predators’ peculiarly good coordination between fingers, eyes, and specialized teeth. Second, primates would have been at their best in settings that were particularly difficult for birds–say, dense, thorny vegetation in which two-legged, flyers were less maneuverable. Third, and perhaps most important, nearly all predatory types tend to specialize in peculiar methods and techniques to exploit the particular vulnerabilities of their preferred prey. Wherever that prey type goes, their predator will follow, and that pursuit might just as well take prey and predator across the day-night divide as across a boundary between vegetation types.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 60.


“The supposition that primates had a substantial start on other mammals in becoming diurnal is given some credence by the fact that most other day-living mammals have poor color discrimination and tend to be more generally myopic than is good for them. It is significant that the main other group of mammals with proven color vision and good acuity–the squirrels–is small and arboreal.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 61.


“Not only do these animals [monkeys] compete with apes, they define one another’s roles and niches in very precise and interesting ways. For example, among a community of 12 higher primates in Bwamba, western Uganda, the gray-cheeked baboon-mangabey is strictly limited to narrow strips of swamp forest, living and feeding very largely in palm trees. Further east, in Marira, where there are only four higher primates, the same species ranges widely through the forest, feeding on many more types of food than in Bwamba. Other examples could be given of monkeys specializing in an area or zone of the forest linked with their use of highly specific techniques to harvest a species-specific range of foods. In effect, the larger the primate community, the more resources are partitioned by place, time, and technique.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 90.


“That apes needed a relatively secure and rich environment (rather than an insecure and demanding one) to become bipedal is, in my view, a crucial concept.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 125.


“An enlarged dietary base [for early anthropoids] could have allowed smaller home ranges or, alternatively, permitted larger social groupings.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 134.


“... Jean Piaget liked to say that ‘in the beginning was the response’. What he meant was that it is in movement and action on the world that intelligence has its origins.” Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. Rutgers University Press. 2003. P. 67.


“In short, evolution, as a gatherer of information which it normally stores as gene frequencies in gene pools, evolved a kind of proxy information-gatherer in the brains of some animals. This is why intelligence is an adaptation. What intelligence is ‘about’ is short-term stabilities.” Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. Rutgers University Press. 2003. P. 67.


“Intelligence, remember, is a proxy information-gaining system. It gains information, information that is important, that is hidden from the main evolutionary programme because it concerns events that change too fast relative to the rate of information gain of the main programme. Remember, also, that intelligence is a ‘solution’ of last resort. Hardwired behavior is cheaper, more reliable and quicker to produce within the lifetime of an animal. Put in other terms, if the main evolutionary programme could generate adaptive behaviour without having to have recourse to intelligence, it would.” Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. Rutgers University Press. 2003. P. 74.


“The real diversity of intelligence, and what many consider the interesting forms of intelligence, such as the ability to learn complex configurations of pattern, including visual and auditory discrimination, complex motor skills such as tool-making, and problem-solving and reasoning, appears to be limited to reptiles, birds and mammals, which constitute less than half of vertebrate species.” Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. Rutgers University Press. 2003. P. 50.


“Adaptive behavior is scaffolded by agents physically engineering their environment. They act on their environment so that it subsequently generates cues that support adaptive responses.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 19.


“When a population is spread across many different niches, selection is less able to predict the informational specifics of the organism’s world. So ecologically more generalized organisms will be under some pressure to escape cue-driven behavior.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 23.


“Schemata encompass all aspects of experience and activity, and form, if a metaphor from astronomy is not too way out, mental centres of gravity which attract to themselves particular experiences which they then shape.” Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. Rutgers University Press. 2003. P. 175.


“... hominins might have become ‘niche-thieves’ because they pursued technological and behavioral solutions to get access to foods that were previously only accessible to other species (ones that had evolved the techniques or physiologies to bypass or outwit their prey’s defenses). In a sense, all adaptive advances involve moving in on the niches of precursors, but I am proposing a much faster type of takeover in which tools, techniques, and strategic intelligence all played pivotal roles.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 199-200.


“Were they [earliest members of the human lineage] simply ‘opportunistic omnivores that retained a marked preference for fruit,’ exceptional only for the number and variety of foods in their diet? In terms of diet alone, maybe, but the processes involved in getting an ever-expanding range of foods, the dietary flexibility that went with increased choice, and the lack of any obvious modifications of claws, teeth, or senses were unprecedented. This flexibility could have been based on the enhanced ability to discover, interpret, and share with other group members indirect clues to potential foods, as described earlier. It was a faculty that could have built on two established skills–one shared with many other species (especially predators) and centered on the close observation of other species, the other based on the ape’s predatory intolerance of competitors that was mentioned earlier. Combining the predator’s alertness to other species’ behavior with a periodic intolerance of actual and potential competitors (as food choices increased), this unprecedented foraging technique might better be termed ‘niche-stealing’ than scavenging.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 219.


“Whereas smell and taste clearly rule the feeding of primates that have their faces close up to their potential food, it is possible that visual-tactile assessment and learning might have become surer guides to edibility for hand foragers that were actively enlarging their dietary repertoire. Such a switch might have slowed judgment, but it could have introduced the critical element of interacting with the environment through a link-up of visual judgment, practiced manipulation, and continuous learning.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 221.


“I suggested earlier that the two main behaviors involved in the emergence of tool using were small-scale food processing (at a mainly individual level) and aggressive interactions that were primarily social. These activities operate in radically different ambits, so a corresponding divergence was likely to have occurred in the earliest contexts and functions of primitive technology. Ground apes, supposedly typical, close-up, intensive foragers, would have collected and processed much of their food within a perceptual field narrowed to the reach of their arms. Wider theaters would have surrounded aggression but probably tended to refer to rivals or threats that were within sight. A third ambit, signaled by distant calls or vistas of unknown or rarely traveled territory, would have tended to be beyond the ken of ground apes. Moving out, literally, into the pathways of other animals in more open country would have involved a challenging expansion in all motor and sensory fields.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 249.


“Of vertebrates, mammals have the most prolonged immaturity; of mammals, primates take this the furthest; and among primates, apes spend the longest time preparing for adulthood. Hominins continued the trajectory until modern humans, protected from natural vicissitudes by innumerable self-made artifacts, could almost be said to be permanently immature! Our technology plays a role analogous to maternal protection in that it detaches us from many of the disciplines of the environment. From this perspective, the ultimate legacy of bipedalism and emancipated hands is that we have prolonged childhood and created an all-embracing technological parent.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. P. 292.


“Where humans may have differed most from other primates could be in the filtering of social behavior through the varied demands of a tool-assisted economy. Every individual’s activity must have demanded responses at so many cognitive levels that it is difficult to imagine the group foraging effectively without a great deal of social tolerance and an appropriate communication system–a system that could address social relations simultaneously with technical and strategic decision making. I see the period between conception and reproduction of the conceived (15 to 20 years) as passing in a very peculiar environment. This setting not only embraced an ecosystem and its food resources, as it would for any animal, but all contact with that environment was mediated through tools and the other people in the group. It is within that peculiar environment that we must seek the secrets of our ecological dominance and the special properties of our minds: the two are connected. In the real life of a prehistoric human, there would have been an unbroken continuum between an animal appetite for food in all its diversity; the context in which food was found (i.e., ecology); the ways in which food could be obtained (i.e., tools and techniques); and the social context in which the food was gathered, shared, and consumed (i.e., the group or ‘society’).” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. Pp. 295-6.


“Furthermore, a prime difference between the ecological niche of other animals and the ‘niche-stealing’ specialization of humans was the continuous expansion of food sources. Novelty was a continuous, not an intermittent, property of human foraging not only because food sources were changing by season (and being augmented as more niches were ‘stolen’) but also because there was always a class of youngsters that were learning how to survive on these resources for the first time.” Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up. Princeton University Press. 2003. Pps. 296-7.


“The chimp species (and almost certainly our hominid ancestors) spend some of their time by themselves or with a small number of others, and some of their time in large groups. Dennett has pointed out that a social environment of this kind creates a marked ‘information gradient.’ Different animals in the group will have overlapping information about their local environment. Information gradients set up an opportunity to use others as instruments for finding out about the world.

“Some social learning is passive. The ordinary ecological activities of adults affect the flow of information to juveniles as they accompany adults on their daily round. Juveniles with experienced adults selectively experience the adult’s territory. This influences what the juvenile learns without calling for any special investment by the juvenile. On the other hand, agents that actively exploit the information and skill gradients in social groups face special cognitive problems. Language is clearly one mechanism by which information flows across a gradient, and one with profound cognitive costs and consequences. But it is not the only one. Learning by true imitation requires special cognitive capacities: capacities which seem to be relatively unusual among nonhuman animals.

“In sum, social information often arrives slowly. And while such information is important to agents, it is often relevant to many possible actions rather than specifying the appropriate condition for a specific action. It does not come labeled for relevance as does information about resources or threats. Other agents in your group are typically both potential competitors and potential allies, and that difference bears on the salience and relevance of information. Moreover, social environments often impose heavy memory demands, select for special learning skills, and force agents to take into account the likely response of others in selecting their own action. The idea, then, that intelligence in our lineage is explained by the social complexity of primate, great ape, and hominid lives is very plausible.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 55.


“1 The increasing demands of social life drive the evolution of agents with intentional psychology: that is, agents with a cognitive architecture characterized by:
a) rich representation: these agents track a rich array of factors about their social and physical environment;
b) decoupled representation;
c) in virtue of (a) and (b) the control of action becomes more complex, for the agent notices more about the world, and more of what they notice is relevant to each choice. As a result of the increasing complexity of control, these agents come to have preferences as well as beliefs.
“2 As a consequence of (1), the behavior of other agents is less dependent on immediate features of their environment. Prediction of what other agents will do remains critical to fitness but it becomes more difficult.
“3 The only plausible solution to (2) is to evolve, despite its costs, a prediction engine: a capacity that enables an agent to predict other agents’ behavior reasonably accurately via a reasonably accurate picture of those agents’ inner world.
“4 Folk psychology is that prediction engine.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. Pps. 56-7.


“Agents who understand their social environment, and the behavioral regularities such environments enforce, are often in a position to anticipate the actions of other agents. The social worlds of other agents often constrain their actions. These constraints will often make behavior predictable. Moreover, if agents can recognize the function of one action, they are often able to predict the next.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 59.


“Belief, I have argued, evolves as the result of two processes. Tracking becomes robust as agents come to use multiple cues to lock onto features of their environment that matter to them, and tracking becomes decoupled from specific actions. Some tracking states no longer function to drive specific acts; instead, they are potentially relevant to many. Moreover, I have developed a conjecture about the selective environments responsible for those changes. Translucent environments select for the use of multiple cues; single ones are no longer reliable enough. Moreover, many translucent environments select for decoupled representations, for in many such environments information becomes available in a piecemeal fashion and without its immediate significance for action being apparent. Selection for decoupled representation feeds back, making reliance on a single cue more problematic, as single-cued systems typically involve accepting a higher probability of one kind of error (false positives or false negatives) in return for a lower probability of the other kind. Environments can become translucent for many reasons, but biological hostility is crucial.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 78.


“The same perceptual signals, combined with different drive states, will cause different behavior. So will different perceptual signals combined with constant drive states, so habit machines can respond adaptively both to variation in the environment itself and variation in their own physical needs.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 82.


“At some stage the increased period of juvenile dependency, perhaps together with the extra costs of larger body size, increased the energetic costs to females of children beyond a certain threshold. This, Key and Aiello argue, selects for the the female cooperation suite. This suite includes direct female/female cooperation over childcare, with mothers sharing the care, protection, and perhaps even the feeding of children. It includes female cooperation against males: concealed ovulation and synchronized cycles of fertility.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. Pps. 128-9.


“The shift in early hominid habitat from forest to woodlands and grasslands put a premium on social learning around the time when changes in hominid life history resulted in an extended period of juvenile development.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 130.


“Thus the invention of relatively crude tools, and then their exaptation for social purposes, together with cognitive mechanisms already in place, establishes a selective environment with a feedback loop built into it. As coalitions increase in size, the risk to each member declines rapidly. This imposes strong selection pressure to induce others to join enforcing coalitions,...” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 133.


“Thus extensive cooperation, including food-sharing, has quite deep roots in hominid history: over half a million years and probably much more. Extensive cooperation and sharing, especially of food and other zero-sum goods, implies the flattening of power distributions within groups. It implies that resource expropriation has become infrequent, and that the social world has become to that extent egalitarian. Enforcement coalitions are the only feasible mechanism through which minimal egalitarian social orders could evolve from hierarchical, bully-dominated social orders. That mechanism is made evolutionarily available by the existence of great apes’ preadaptations for coalition formation. Enforcement coalitions imposed costs on their members, and hence effective, credible enforcement posed a commitment problem. Once extensive cooperation began to evolve in hominids, many mechanisms, both social and cognitive, would reinforce that trend.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 143.


“We modify our environments systematically to ease cognitive workloads. Dennett argues that labeling turns memory tasks into perceptual tasks, and thus turns hard discriminations into easy ones. Labeling makes aspects of the world transparent by establishing a one-to-one correspondence between sensory properties and functional ones.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 154.


“Hominids make aspects of the physical or social world more salient by marking them physically, linguistically, or behaviorally. Collectively then, hominid groups buffer the increasing cognitive demands placed on them by their own technologies, their extractive foraging, and their social relationships. Such buffering allows the further expansion of information-hungry techniques by reducing the burden of such techniques on individual agents.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 157.

“For animals by-product engineering (as the environment of the young is structured by the ordinary activities of the adult) and protected trial and error learning are the main mechanisms of downstream epistemic engineering, though, as we shall see, imprinting is also an important mechanism.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 157.


“Thus imitation does contrast with imprinting. Imprinting does not typically transmit solutions to environmental problems which can be incrementally improved. A nest site is either used or not used. Imprinting, by-product engineering, and the like are certainly mechanisms through which information about a new resource discovered in one generation can be transmitted to the next: a new food, a new nest site. But those channels are not well-adapted to transmitting specific techniques, and hence incremental improvements in technique, from one generation to the next.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 159.


“The distinction between niche construction and cumulative downstream niche construction leads Tomasello to distinguish quite sharply between two time-scales in social life. Chimps have a varied material culture, but relatively few skills are part of a chimp’s behavioral repertoire only because others in that agent’s community already have them. And few, perhaps none, of these skills shows signs of being built by cumulative improvement. So the great apes have social but not cultural lives,...” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 160.


“... our minds are developmentally plastic too, having features the development of which is environmentally contingent but stable once developed. In particular, I would like to emphasize three dimensions of this plasticity: (a) automated skills; (b) affect and mechanisms of evaluation; (c) neural plasticity. Automatized skills are slowly built, but once built they are enduring and automatic. I will be able to play chess till the day I die. Skills are not the only enduring features of mind that develop as a result of specific features of the environment. Affect is another. Aversions and other disgust responses are stable once acquired....”

“Everyone accepts that human brains are developmentally plastic in the sense that a modicum of normal input is required for human neural circuitry to develop and function properly. It is somewhat more controversial to suggest that differences in input generate differences in neural circuitry; differences, that is, that are both cognitively significant and functional....

“...We do not vary only in trivial ways. Learning Arabic numerals and positional notation has surely made a qualitative difference to our capacity for quantitative reasoning. A statistician or a poker player who has mastered and internalized the principles of probability theory can think about chance in ways that are just not available to those who lack that training, and that is true even if they sometimes lapse back into error-prone heuristic reasoning. The point I am making about the existence and extent of widespread and deep variation in cognitive capacity depends fundamentally only on such examples as these.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. Pps. 163-5.


“Hominid environments became more variable at a single time, and changed faster over time, for some of these changes were self-induced. These changes select for both behavioral and developmental plasticity.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 172.


“We have inherited from deep in the mammalian clade perceptual mechanisms that highlight certain aspects of the world and of our experience of it. In an important sense, these ancient, conserved, and widespread systems are domain-general. These have been inherited and preserved in many species because the features they make salient are important in a wide range of environments and ways of life. The similarities and differences made salient by such widely shared perceptual systems often map fairly smoothly onto the categories of the physical sciences: these are the traditional primary properties of perception. Perceptual sensitivity to these properties is a fuel for success because these properties–velocity, mass, shape, solidarity, the three-dimensional layout of the world–carve nature at its joints, and because facts about that layout are important to any active agent in any environment.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 197.


“... hominid minds are not adapted to a Pleistocene average. Rather, they are adapted to the variability of hominid environments: to the spread of variation, rather than to its peak. Our evolutionary response to variation is phenotypic plasticity. Humans develop different phenotypes in different environments.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 162.


“Indeed, Quartz and Sejnovski have developed an even more ambitious case for the adaptive importance of neural plasticity: their response of the developing brain to environmental stimulation. They argue that (a) fundamental aspects of neural organization develop in a way sensitive to the environment; (b) thus different environments result in differences in neural organization, even given the same starting point; (c) these differences are pervasive and exist at a variety of scales, so are salient to the information-processing character of the brain. In their terminology, the learning capacities of the human mind are ‘non-stationary.’ The way we learn changes as we learn.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 167. Reference is to Quartz, S and Sejnowski, T. “The Neural Basis of Cognitive Development: A Constructivist Manifesto.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 20: 537-596. 1997.


“A theory of human cognitive evolution needs to integrate the biological and social-scientific perspectives on human nature. Niche construction and its partial transformation into bona fide inheritance is the key to this integration. Some of the apparatus of hominid social life has become part of inherited hominid developmental resources. Hominids do not just inherit genes: they inherit epistemic resources that scaffold the development of life skills that are characteristic of their parents and of their immediate group, and which quite often distinguish them phenotypically from other hominids. Thus niche construction is a mechanism that supports developmental flexibility: a child becomes a skilled hunter rather than a fisherman because be inherits this set of developmental resources. Human genes have become adapted to sharing the job of directing development with an array of other resources. Moreover, since these new developmental resources are made and incorporated into inheritance systems more quickly than new genetic resources, one effect is a potential acceleration of hominid evolution. Expanded inheritance can then act as a means both for the evolutionary fragmentation of hominid lineages and as a means by which evolutionary change is accelerated.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 171.


“...fundamental idea is that behavioral flexibility is needed in complex environments, for in such environments invariant rules have mediocre rewards.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003. P. 11.


“Biologically, we are just another ape. Mentally, we are a new phylum of organisms.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 23.


“Large animals, in comparison, can get by with rather slower reflexes, can afford to vary their sexual and foraging behaviors in an effort to better optimize their behaviors, and may have a considerable opportunity to learn by observation and trial and error. Being longer-lived puts a greater premium on learning and memory, and less on automatic preprogrammed behaviors. In addition, living a long time or having the capacity to travel for long distances is more likely to expose an animal to significant changes in the environment.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 160.


“Other general body features include a reduction in brain/body ratio and reproductive rate with increasing size. A few cognitive correlates are depicted by the triangles below. These include a reduction of integration of functions, due to a more subdivided and less interconnected brain, and a corresponding increase in processing time and reaction times; a reduced reliance on inbuilt responses and an increased reliance on learning, because of a greater tolerance for less efficient but more flexible trial-and-error adaptation; and a shift in learning strategies from highly stimulus-bound learning to learning that is more open to generalization and transfer of information between diverse contexts.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 161. [“triangles below” refers to triangles running under each category of increase or reduction in a chart associated with this quote to highlight each of the increasing or reducing trends noted.]


“Consequently, increasing size means an increasing fragmentation of function. It also means loss of speed, both because of the increased distances and because of the increased numbers of nodes that must be traversed by a signal to reach comparably removed sites in the overall network.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 162.


“Skilled behaviors, in contrast, are associated with the skeletal muscle systems, such as the limb muscles. Since locomotor needs are so varied and unpredictable in most species, this system has to be capable of considerable plasticity and modifiability. Ongoing behaviors must be capable of being monitored and must be open to interruption and modification” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 237.


“In neurological terms, calls are characterized by foreground visceral motor programs on a background of relatively stable oral facial postures. The skeletal motor system is subordinated to the visceral motor system. Speech inverts this relationship. When humans speak, the skeletal motor components of the oral tract take the foreground against a comparatively more stable vocal-respiratory background.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 246.


“What might an anomalously large prefrontal region have to do with that other human anomaly, language? Or to pose the question more specifically: Is there something about language that requires a predisposition for working with difficult conditional associative relationships, maintaining items in working memory under highly distractive conditions, or using negative information to shift associative strategies from concrete stimulus driven links to abstract associations?” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 264.


“The prefrontal cortex helps us inhibit the tendency to act on simple correlative stimulus relationships and guides our sampling of alternative higher-order sequential or hierarchic associations. Its role in language and symbol learning in particular is not, however, merely to increase something we might call prefrontal intelligence. Rather I suspect the importance of the size change can be thought of in displacement terms, in patterns of cognition as in patterns of brain development. Prefrontal computations outcompete other cognitive computations and tend to dominate learning in us as no other species. In simple terms, we have become predisposed to use this one cognitive tool whenever an opportunity presents itself, because an inordinate amount of control of the other processes in the brain has become vested in our prefrontal cortex.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 265.


“What is unusual in humans is the radical shift in the balance between attention to higher-order recoding possibilities, and thus unlearning, as compared to more typical first-order learning processes which are more appropriate to the vast majority of physical and even social adaptations.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 335.


“... Pavlovian conditioning emphasizes a one-way transmission of instructions from stimulus to response, and both Pavlovian and operant conditioning see the role of the environment as a sort of behavioral conductor that orchestrates all of the adaptive changes in behavior.” Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 101.


“...what we have is a circuit, not an arc or broken segment of a circle. This circuit is more truly termed organic than reflex, because the motor response determines the stimulus, just as truly as sensory stimulus determines movement. Indeed, the movement is only for the sake of determining the stimulus, of fixing what kind of a stimulus it is, of interpreting it.” Dewey, John. 1896. “The reflex arc concept in psychology.” Psychological Review, 3(4), 357-370. P. 363. Quoted in Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 103.


“Another problem with operant conditioning theory is that it provides no explanation for why certain events reinforce the organism’s behavior and others do not. Why is it that a hungry but well-watered rat will work a lever to obtain food but not water, while a thirsty but well-fed one will do the opposite? Perceptual control theory answers this question by seeing the reward as a controlled variable, that is, a variable that is controlled by the organism by varying its behavior.” Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 116.


“In other words, to behaviorists, behavior is controlled by the environment; to perceptual control theorists, behavior controls the environment.” Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 117.


“According to Piaget, the two major ways in which children (as well as adults) interact with their world are through assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation refers to an incorporation of some sensory experience into a preexisting thought structure or schema (we will ignore for now the origin of this preexisting schema). For example, a child having seen sparrows and blackbirds and able to recognize them as members of the category ‘bird’ would likely assimilate the sighting of a starling into this same category. The child might also attempt to assimilate the first observed butterfly into the bird schema since it shares certain similarities with other members of this category. However, calling a butterfly a bird would very likely result in a correction by an adult or older child, ‘That’s not a bird, it’s a butterfly!’ This would then require accommodation of the child’s thought so that butterflies and birds would be treated as different types of objects, each with its own label and distinguishing characteristics.” Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 130.


“Donald T. Campbell’s hierarchy of selectionist knowledge processes
______________________________________
11. Science
10. Cultural cumulation
9. Language (overlapping 6 and 7)
8. Socially vicarious exploration; Observational learning and imitation
7. Mnemonically supported thought
6 Visually supported thought
5. Habit
4. Instinct
3. Vicarious locomotor devices
2. Nonmnemonic problem solving
1. Genetic adaptation”
Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 144.


“... visually supported thought is ‘the dominant form of insightful problem solving in animals, e.g., as described by Köhler [and] requires the support of a visually present environment. With the environment represented vicariously through visual search, there is a substitute trial and error of potential locomotions in thought. The ‘successful’ locomotions at this substitute level, with its substitute selective criteria, are then put into overt locomotion, where they appear ‘intelligent,’ ‘purposeful,’ ‘insightful,’ even if still subject to further editing in the more direct contact with the environment.’” Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 146 Subquote is from Campbell, D.T. “Evolutionary Epistemology.” From P.A. Schilpp, editor. The Philosophy of Karl Popper. (Vol. 1, pp. 413-463). Open Court. P. 427.


“This learning from the learning of others is nowhere more developed than in humans where it is generally referred to as culture.” Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press. P. 152.


“Gibson’s idea is that, because some affordances of the environment are in fact very persistent, even with respect to phylogenetic time, there may exist in the environment information specifying those affordances. If information about affordances exists in the environment, the ability to detect and utilize that information in the regulation of behavior would tend to confer significant evolutionary advantages on animals that use those abilities relative to those that did not. In this regard, ecological information functions as a unique kind of resource, one that has the potential to facilitate an animal’s use of other resources.”

“Information is a special kind of resource because it must specify other environmental resources without being those resources.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. Pps. 47-8.


“Information that remains invariant regardless of anything that an animal does may be said to be exterospecific information, meaning that it specifies a fact of the surroundings of that animal. Information that varies in specific ways as a function of what the animal is currently doing may be said to be propriospecific information, meaning that it specifies how the animal is encountering its environment.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 49.


“James Gibson and his student George Kaplan proved that the optical information specifying going out of sight has its basis in the accretion and deletion of optical texture. What Gibson and Kaplan discovered was that all going out of sight or coming into sight involves occluding edges. Occluding edges are generated when one opaque surface is in the way of another surface along the line of sight. If you wave your hand right in front of your face, then the surfaces of your hand and fingers will occlude the surface of your face from my vision. At the leading edge of each finger there is deletion of the optical texture specifying your face and accretion of the optical texture specifying your finger. At the trailing edge of each finger there is accretion of the optical texture specifying your face and deletion of the optical texture specifying your finger. Accretion of texture specifies coming into sight and deletion of texture specifies going out of sight.”

“Many cases of occlusion are reversible: as you wave your hand back and forth across your face, the parts of your face that go out of sight one moment come back into sight the next moment. Whenever occlusion is caused by an observer’s moving in the environment there is potential for reversibility. If I walk around the tree so as to see the stream behind it, I can also walk back along the same path, ultimately making the stream go out of sight again. Gibson argued that the persistence of environmental objects was specified by this kind of reversibility.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 63.


“... for ecological psychology, the study of psychological processes is a study of functional adjustment to the environment, in which input and output are not meaningfully separable.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 65.

“In particular, the evolution of neural control of behavior has always been characterized by a striking contrast between the functional need of animals to regulate their activity in terms of persisting features of the environment and the relatively impermanent nature of most behavioral units.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 68.


“What a neural network does is coordinate the animal’s encounters with its environment.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 78.


“We should thus differentiate between two kinds of activity, performatory and exploratory–because the selective contingencies are very different for the two cases. Exploratory activity, as I call the scanning for and use of information typically does not require the expenditure of a significant amount of force to alter the substances or surfaces of the environment. Instead, it involve the adjustment of the head and sensory organs to the ambient energy fields. These adjustments are typically embodied in cyclic, low-energy and low-impact movements of the sense organs or the head. The selective advantage thus obtainable is that of having information useful for regulating one’s activity pattern. These latter performatory activities are precisely those cases in which the animal does use significant amounts of force to alter the substances and surfaces of its environment.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. Pps. 80-1.


“From an ecological point of view the central nervous system is not a commander of the body nor a storehouse of ideas; it is something much more amazing: a system that serves to maintain an animal’s functional contact with its surroundings. The units of this system–neuronal firings–are not themselves signals, messengers, or symbols of either ideas or actions, as previous psychological theories assume. Instead, these units embody a population of variable activity that allows for an animal’s perceptions and actions to be selected via environmental constraints, and thus come to be adapted to the environment even within the constraints of ontogenetic and behavioral time.”

“Selectionist accounts of neural processing have been proposed before but none of these neural selectionist theories has provided an account of the environmental structures involved in the selection process. I have argued here that the relatively persisting affordances of the environment and similarly persisting information for those affordances constitute the environmental basis of the neuronal selection process.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 82.


“For life itself to be maintained, a locomoting organism has to monitor the reactive forces of its environment (current, friction, impact, gravity) and to compensate for these if and when they exceed safe limits.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 83.


“The first basic regulation is maintenance of a bodily state with respect to some feature of the environment. This is typically a dynamic regulation–keeping one’s head to the front, maintaining ventral contact with a substrate, keeping one’s eyes on a moving target. This mode of regulation I term the control of posture. The second basic regulation is controlled transformation from one bodily state into another.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. Pps. 84-5.


“... The mechanisms of learning can be reconceptualized in terms of selection in behavioral time regulated by neural functional systems. Sufficient variation in perception and action is produced by the nervous system to allow for persistent selection to have a marked effect on further performance. Because of this variability of behavior and its contexts, perceptual learning is likely to be essential for all kinds of action learning. If it is true that most habitats contain a considerable amount of ambient information for animals, then there is always an opportunity for perceptual learning.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 94.


“Behavior is defined as an animal’s ability to change its relationship with its surroundings.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 97.


“The laws of physics, basic biophysical principles, and the nature of animal bodies together constrain animal activity to be ‘pulsed’ at a very specific environmental grain, usually measurable in parts of meters/second.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 97.


“Heretofore, psychological theorizing has split into two overarching camps: those who promote the study of the mind and those who promote the study of behavior. Attempts to bridge the two have been seen as just that–attempts to bring together two disparate areas of study. In the present view, psychology is both the study of mind and the study of behavior, and it is neither. It is the study of the animate–the study of how animals encounter their surroundings and how they regulate those encounters.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 99.


“... when I pluck some fruit to eat, I am not creating the food or any new value. Similarly, when I see the ripened fruit, I am not creating the meaning that this is food, but simply discovering it. My exploratory looking and sniffing makes information available to me, but it does not, in itself, create either the information or its meaning. Without a theory of external value and meaning, this important difference between discovery and invention disappears.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 102.


“... a young bird might mistake a noxious butterfly for an edible one. This is not just a failure (i.e., the inability to achieve some goal) but a mistake (i.e., the achievement of the wrong goal).” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 106.


“From the present ecological perspective we can say that when something is perceived for the first time, its meaning is usually grasped only vaguely or imperfectly. If this vague meaning appears interesting and nonthreatening, then further exploration may be in order and perceptual learning will commence.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 107.


“The theory of affordances, on which all of ecological psychology is based, holds that the environment affords action for the organism, not that it causes action or that it stimulates action. Indeed, each object has many affordances, and it is the selection of which affordance to perceive and use that embodies what is here called the effort after meaning and value. Affordances provide opportunities for behavior and awareness. Whether the animal takes up these opportunities or not is a separate matter.”

“The fact that the environment does not cause behaviors does not mean that behaviors are caused by internal or mental states of the organism. This is an equally pernicious form of determinism. The effort after meaning and value is both constrained by and made possible by the affordances of the environment, and by the information specifying those affordances. The effort after meaning and value is also both constrained by and made possible by the perception and action systems of the organism. But the effort after meaning and value is not caused by anything.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 108.


“... most successful hominids combine key features of both the primates and the carnivores. In some respects, the human population can be defined as a primate population that, like many of the larger carnivores, has invaded most of the world’s biomes.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 113.


“... relative to other hominids, Homo sapiens populations show the following: a very large home range over which local populations are active, with a very large daily range; and a relatively large group size with considerable internal social structure and high dietary selectivity (strong preference for nuts, meat, etc.). Unlike other hominids, Homo sapiens populations tend to remain in particular sites for protracted periods, despite environmental perturbation. They show careful and planful arrangement of hearths, and there is considerable evidence for collective efforts in all modes of resource usage, from acquisition of raw materials for food and tools, to trade between bands for specialized materials.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 114.


“The modern human habit of life is characterized by a highly specialized mode of ecological generalism. Human populations have diverse needs and tastes that typically cannot be met within the confines of a single biome. Three solutions have evolved to meet this ecological challenge: systematic migration, especially on a seasonal basis; sites at the boundaries of several biomes, taking advantage of mosaic environmental structure; technology and trade to modify a local biome in such a way that it can contain the necessities of life.” Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Oxford University Press. P. 115.
 

“However, control of behavior is not limited to feedback from consequences of behavior. Within animals, many state variables have been identified that participate in the generation of behavior sequences. How such states change depends very much on their nature and may involve processes intrinsic to the nervous system (e.g. internal clocks), physiological states and processes outside the nervous system (e.g., hormones, water and energy status) and perceived external events and circumstances (e.g., social stimuli) or any combination of these categories.

“The concept of motivational state has proved useful and models based on such a concept have been remarkably successful. An important contribution has been the establishment that behavior systems can be regarded as dynamical systems by complementing the equation that describes the behavior map (output function) with state-transition equations that update the motivational state.” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. Pp. 12-3.


“The prominence of functional considerations has two consequences for typical cognitive models. First, it blurs the distinction between proximate and ultimate explanations. However, that the function of memory is to store information is not an explanation of how memory works. Second, emphasis on function and symbolic information processing discourages thinking of how nervous systems actually implement the proposed functions and computations. Third, emphasis on function leads naturally to the idea that what is computed is computed correctly. For these reasons, some behavioral phenomena have so far benefited little from a cognitive approach either because it is difficult to know what is functional, because the computational content of a behavior is unclear (e.g., sleep) or because behavior is, in some conditions, not functional. Examples of the latter include biases in responding to stimuli and other features of decision making.

“Cognitive models typically are intermediate between operational and physiological models. They aim at describing real mechanisms within the animal, at the level of symbolic information processing, but they are inferred from behavioral observations and functional arguments.” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. Pp. 16-7.


“In new situations, animals show systematic generalization based on similar past conditions, and this is a crucial part of their ability to confront the world. As a consequence of their structure, many network models generalize naturally.” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. P. 22.


“For instance, each cubic millimeter of mouse cortex contains about 105 neurons and an estimated 1 to 3.5 km of axons, whereby each neuron connects to about 8000 others.” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. P. 32.


“The reason for distinguishing between states of the nervous system and body states is that the latter can be treated similarly to external stimuli. Both external stimuli and body states, in fact, influence behavior via specialized receptors that transform various physical realities into neural activity. Internal senses, indeed, are as many as or more than external ones. Table 3.1, for instance, lists the senses known to exist in humans: more than half are internal. Modeling external stimuli and body states amounts thus to knowing how external and internal conditions stimulate the relevant sense organs. Just as not all sense[s] are external, the nervous system does not produce only overt behavior. Internal responses include the control of internal organs and the secretion of hormones by specialized nerve cells.” Table 3.1 lists under “Sensory modality” column the following: “Vision, Hearing, Smell, Taste, Rotational acceleration, Linear acceleration, Touch-pressure, Temperature, Pain, Joint position and movement, Muscle length, Muscle tension, Arterial blood pressure, Central venous pressure, Inflation of lungs, Blood temperature (head), Arterial O2 pressure, pH of CSF, Osmotic pressure of plasma, Glucose level.” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. P. 68.


“In nature we find an enormous variety of signal forms. Among closely related species, signals are usually dramatically more variable in form than nonsignaling traits. For example, plumage coloration in birds often varies to a much greater extent within genera than do other morphological features such as beak, wing or body shape ...” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. P. 198.


“A signal is typically made up of a number of distinct elements. It is common to find that some of these elements are exaggerated and/or contrasting with other signal elements. In addition, elements may be repeated several or many times and usually are arranged to form various symmetries. Signals also relate to other signals and the background. It is possible for signals to be conspicuous in isolation, but signals are conspicuous also because they are different from the background. Another general feature of signals is their distinctiveness. The most extreme situation, noticed by Darwin, is that signals designed to provoke opposite reactions are often opposite in form (‘principle of antithesis’).” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. P. 199.


“The insight that neural networks can provide about the evolution of behavior is perhaps one of their more interesting contributions. Neural networks make it possible to understand the evolution of behavior by offering material explanations for the evolution from simple to complex and from sloppy to perfect. Most other models cannot account for this. Behavioral ecology just assumes that optimal behavior has been produced by evolution, and cognitive, ethological, and learning models are static.” Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior. Princeton University Press. P. 209.


“Cognitive and developmental construction can be related in several ways:

“1. Cognition is a way of interacting with the environment, and knowing changes the knower, for the short or long term, so cognitive change can be seen as developmental in itself.
“2. People respond to the reality they construe, so their understanding of their surroundings influences the salience and significance, and thus the developmental impact, of those surroundings.
3. [Self constructions of self]
4. [Others’ constructions of self]

“These links between cognitive and developmental construction are themselves linked. Such mobile, complex, variable processes are not captured by schemes that cast either insides or outsides in a primary role; ‘expression of genetic potential’ is as inadequate as ‘internalization’ at describing the formation-in-interaction of developmental emergence. My preference is to construe development or ontogeny – synonymous in my usage – very broadly, by referring to the latter word’s roots: ‘the genesis of being.’ This coming into being continues throughout life, and is as various as individuals are.” Oyama, Susan. 2000. Evolution’s Eye: A Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide. Duke University Press. P. 168.


“On the other hand, how can such solutions be separated from Tepel’s social experience? She showed a striking ability to relate effectively a whole series of past experiences, including knowledge of children’s quarrels, sleeping apes, Mama’s position of authority, and the effect of a hand placed over a mouth. The extra faculty that makes chimpanzee behavior so flexible is their ability to combine separate bits of knowledge. Because their knowledge is not limited to familiar situations, they do not have to feel their way blindly when confronted with new problems. Chimpanzees use all their past experience in ever-changing practical applications.

“The ability to combine past experiences in order to achieve a goal is best described as reasoning and thought; no better words exist. Instead of testing a particular course of action through actual trial and error, chimpanzees are able to weigh the consequences of a choice in their heads. The result is considered, rational behavior. Primates take such a mas of social information into account, and are so finely attuned to the moods and intentions of others, that it has been speculated that their high intelligence evolved in order to deal with an increasingly complex group life. This idea, known as the Social Intelligence Hypothesis, may also apply to the enormous brain expansion in our own lineage.

“In this view, technical inventiveness is a secondary development: the evolution of primate intelligence started with the need to outsmart others, to detect deceptive tactics, to reach mutually advantageous compromises, and to foster social ties that advance one’s career. Chimpanzees clearly excel in this domain.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. Pp. 38-9.


“Hence dominance manifests itself in two very different ways. First, there is social influence, or power, as reflected in who can defeat whom and who weighs in most heavily when a conflict in the group occurs. The outcome of these confrontations is not 100 percent predictable, particularly since chimpanzees constantly form shifting alliances. Incidental reversals in the social hierarchy are far less rare than with other animal species. That is why the chimpanzee hierarchy is so often termed ‘flexible’ and ‘plastic.’ A young chimpanzee of not more than two or three can sometimes put an adult male or female to flight or even coerce them into doing something. These are not just playful incidents; they can be serious conflicts, such as the occasion when Jonas, with his mother’s support, forced Franje to suckle him.

“Children are never ‘greeted’ by adult group members: they may sometimes exert real power but they have no formal dominance. Unlike the outcome of conflicts, which are so variable that even the leader is sometimes chased up a tree, the ‘greeting’ rituals are completely predictable. ‘Greeting’ reflects frozen dominance relationships. It is the only common form of social behavior that is non-mutual: in other words, if A ‘greets’ B during a certain period, B will never ‘greet’ A during the same period. This remarkable rigidity exists only for the submissive greeting, in which a series of low, panting grunts is emitted. Chimpanzees greet each other in many different ways. I shall use the term ‘greeting’ in quotation marks to denote the vocal form. Yeroen, as the alpha male, never uttered pant-grunts, but he was frequently ‘greeted’ by everyone in the group.

“Formal rank and power generally overlap; however, in some cases, rank can become dissociated from power. In other words, the position of a dominant ape can become untenable. Just how chimpanzees determine this moment is not known, but it seems clear that the course of their aggressive encounters constitutes the main source of information in this respect. For example, if the subordinate party begins to win conflicts more and more often, or if he at least regularly produces fear and hesitation in the dominant party, this will not escape him. If this shift in the relationship persists, the ‘greetings’ between them will gradually become no more than hollow formality. The subordinate party will stop ‘greeting’ the dominant party. In this way he queries, as it were, the state of their relationship.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. Pp. 81-2.


“We tend to think that the outcome of a fight determines the social relationship, whereas here the outcome was determined by the social relationship. The same was seen in later dominance processes. The prevailing social climate affected the self-confidence of the rivals. It was as if their effectiveness depended on the attitude of the group. Although after four weeks Luit had shown in the fight in the sleeping quarters that he was physically stronger than Yeroen, it took him nine weeks to prove himself as convincingly in the group as a whole. By then Yeroen could hardly hope for any support, and one of the females, Puist, had probably deserted his camp altogether. Luit had carefully tested the reactions of the group before he dared make an overt attack on Yeroen. His success in the final fight was more than just a demonstration of brute strength: he made it quite clear to Yeroen that the attitude of the group had changed radically.

“I cannot believe that fights between males are in fact tests of strength, because the males are too controlled. They only bite extremities, usually a finger or a foot, and less frequently a shoulder or the head. This special kind of controlled fighting is already obvious between two juvenile males, Wouter and Jonas, both in their play and during the rare serious incidents between them. Since this is virtually the only way the males fight each other, they cannot be out to prove their respective physical strengths. The crucial factor is their capacity to fight effectively within the rules. A male must be able to get his hands and feet quickly out of the way, and he must equally quickly be able to seize hold of his opponent’s hand or foot. Speed and agility are just as important as strength.

“The inhibitions and rules governing male-male confrontations in chimpanzees are characteristic of species with multi-male societies. This condition is far from common. Social mammals usually live in groups of several, sometimes many, females but few adult males. In some species, such as elephants, males are not really part of society at all, whereas in most other species a single male keeps rivals away from ‘his’ females. Less commonly, males tolerate each other’s presence, usually with little friendly contact among them, and the rarest situation of all is that males are actually friends and allies.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. Pp. 103-4.


“After the conflict between the two rivals had died down, the female mediator would walk up to one of them and kiss him or groom him for a short time. After she had presented herself to him and he had inspected her genitals, she would walk slowly over to his opponent. The first male would follow her, sniffing at her vulva every now and again and without looking at his opponent. The male’s decided interest in the mediating female’s behind was unusual. In other situations an adult male would not follow a female who had just presented herself to him, especially if she did not have a sexual swelling. (In fact females with a sexual swelling have never been seen to act as mediators. This is understandable, because they would only be a source of further disagreement.)

“The male probably followed the female mediator as a kind of excuse to approach his opponent while at the same time not having to look at him. It was obvious that the female did not just happen to walk over to the opponent; her mediation was a purposeful act. She would regularly look around to make sure the first male was still following her, and if he was not she would turn around and tug at his arm so as to make him follow. When she and the male reached his opponent, the female would sit down and both males would proceed to groom her, one on each side. When the female discreetly withdrew a few minutes later the two males would continue grooming as if nothing had happened, but now, of course, they would be grooming each other.

“This surprising catalytic function of the females can only be interpreted as meaning that it was in their interest that peace should be restored. All the adult females performed the role of mediator at one time or another, but not all their methods were as subtle as in the incident described above.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. Pp. 107-8.


“The tension between the two males was most obvious when they were both displaying at each other. Both Luit and Nikkie did their best to show not the slightest trace of uncertainty in each other’s presence – Luit with his characteristic hard thumps on the ground and Nikkie hooting and throwing carefully aimed stones. Whey they were out of each other’s sight, however, they showed definite signs of fear. This was a case of genuine bluffing, in the sense that each pretended to be braver and less frightened than he really was. During one of their confrontations, for example, I observed a remarkable series of signal disguises. After Luit and Nikkie had displayed in each other’s proximity for over ten minutes a conflict broke out between them in which Luit was supported by Mama and Puist. Nikkie was driven into a tree, but a little later he began to hoot at the leader again while he was still perched in the tree. Luit was sitting at the bottom of the tree with his back to his challenger. When he heard the renewed sounds of provocation he bared his teeth but immediately put his hand to his mouth and pressed his lips together. I could not believe my eyes and quickly focused my binoculars on him. I saw the nervous grin appear on his face again and once more he used his finger to press his lips together. The third time Luit finally succeeded in wiping the grin off his face; only then did he turn around. A little later he displayed at Nikkie as if nothing had happened, and with Mama’s help he chased him back into the tree. Nikkie watched his opponents walk away. All of a sudden he turned has back and, when the others could not seem him, a grin appeared on his face and he began to yelp softly. I could hear Nikkie because I was not far away, but the sound was so suppressed that Luit probably did not notice that his opponent was also having trouble concealing his emotions.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. P. 128.


“Just as individual recognitoin is a prerequisite of a stable hiearchy, so triadic awareness is a prerequisite of a hierarchy based on coalitions. The term triadic awareness refers to the capacity to perceive social relationships between others so as to form varied triangular relationships. For example, Luit knows that Yeroen and Nikkie are allies, so he will not provoke conflicts with Yeroen when Nikkie is nearby, but he is much less reluctant to do so when he meets Yeroen alone. What is special about this kind of knowledge is than an individual is not only aware of his or her own relationships with everyone in the group, but also monitors and evaluates relationships that exist in the social environment so as to gain an understanding of how the self relates to combinations of other individuals. Elementary forms of three-dimensional group life are found in many birds and mammals, but primates are undoubtedly supreme in this respect. Mediation with a view to reconciliation, separating interventions, telling tales, and coalitions would all be inconceivable without triadic awareness.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. Pp. 175-6.


“Ever since Thucydides wrote about the Peloponnesian War, more than two millennia ago, it has been known that nations tend to seek allies against nations perceived as a common threat. Mutual fear as the basis of alliance formation makes nations weigh in on the lighter side of the balance. The result is a power equilibrium in which all nations hold influential positions. The same principle applies to social psychology and is known as the formation of ‘minimal winning coalitions.’ If the weakest of three players in an experimental game has a chance of scoring points if he joins the strongest or the middle party, he will prefer to ally himself with the latter. After his dethronement Yeroen was faced with a similar choice; on the one hand a coalition with the more powerful party, Luit, and on the other a coalition with the weaker, Nikkie. Under Luit’s dominance Yeroen’s influence was limited because Luit did not need his support. At most he needed his neutrality. By choosing to support Nikkie, however, Yeroen made himself indispensable to Nikkie’s leadership, and consequently his influence in the group grew again.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. Pp. 180-1.


“Two social psychologists, John Bond and Edgar Vinacke, organized groups of three people – two men and one woman or two women and one man – to take part in a competitive game where the formation of coalitions increased the chances of winning. After 360 such games they concluded that men take more initiatives with respect to forming alliances, especially if there is something to be gained by doing so, whereas women find the atmosphere in which the game is played more important. Women support weakly positioned players and join forces against male competitiveness. The female strategy yields similar results, but is so totally different that the psychologists call their coalitions accommodative as against the exploitative coalitions of the men. A great many such studies have been conducted, and they all point in the same direction: men are out to win and concerned with strategic considerations, whereas women are more interested in interpersonal contacts and predominantly form coalitions with the people they like.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. P. 196.


“There are indications of reciprocity in the nonmaterial behavior of chimpanzees. This is seen, for instance, in their coalitions (A supports B, and vice versa), nonintervention alliances (A remains neutral if B does the same), sexual bargaining (A tolerates B mating after B has groomed A) and reconciliation blackmail (A refuses to have contact with B unless B ‘greets’ A). It is interesting that reciprocity occurs in both the negative and the positive sense. Nikkie’s habit of individually punishing females who a short time before joined forces against him has already been described. In this way he repaid a negative action with another negative action.” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. P. 200.


“For the time being I should like to sum up as follows: chimpanzee group life is like a market in power, sex, affection, support, intolerance, and hostility. The two basic rules are ‘one good turn deserves another’ and ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’” De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, Revised Edition. John Hopkins University Press. P. 202.
 

“Cognitive interaction is the result of the internal structure of the autopoietic system. In this sense, the view of Maturana and Varela is opposite to the representational model, according to which cognition is primarily the act of taking a picture of the external environment. In the autopoietic view, cognition is instead an act of mutual interaction between the inner structure of the system and the environment, in the particular sense that the environment is ‘created’ by the sensorium of the living organism during the interaction itself.” Luisi, Pier Luigi. 2006. The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology. Cambridge University Press. P. 167.


“Here, at the level of humans, the main point is again that cognition is not based on the representation of external objects that our mind is visualizing. Rather, there is a recursive coupling in operation, according to which the experience of the outside world is possible only because of the nature of the human structure. It is human consciousness that makes possible the emergence of objects of the outside world.” Luisi, Pier Luigi. 2006. The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology. Cambridge University Press. P. 173.
 

"If you've ever watched what goes on at a birdfeeder, you'll often see a mother bird feeding a baby that's bigger than she is, and she does it with an attitude of 'Oh, all right!' Gradually she makes it harder for the baby to get food from he, until finally the baby is on its own. Or, if the baby continues to pester for food, the mother will drive it off or fly away.

"When our babies [wild birds raised by human rescuers] learn to fly well, they also begin to feed themselves. Quite often they'll bring me the first bug they catch, because they don't know what to do with it. They're very excited about it, but it's all mushy in their mouths. I give it back to them, and then they know what to do with it. After a few more tries, they begin to connect catching the bug with swallowing it." Stretch, Mary Jane & Phyllis Hobe. The Swan in my Bathtub & Other Adventures in the Aark, Dutton, 1991, p. 9.


“How, then, can we make that connection between adaptation and knowledge? We do so through a two-track argument. The first is that the human capacity to gain and impart knowledge is itself an adaptation, or a set of adaptations. To the scientifically literate this may not seem to be a startling claim. But it does have specific and interesting implications. We simply will not understand human rationality and intelligence, or human communication and culture, until we understand how these seemingly unnatural attributes are deeply rooted in human biology. They are, I will argue, the special adaptations that make us special. What is unarguable is that they are the products of human evolution, whether adaptations or not. There really are no substantive alternative ways of understanding our extraordinary capacity for knowledge....”  

“The second track of the argument is the one that many find strange and difficult, and one which has already been partially given in the Preface. It is that adaptations are themselves knowledge, themselves forms of ‘incorporation’ of the world into the structure and organization of living things. Because this seems to misappropriate a word, ‘knowledge’, with a widely accepted meaning - knowledge usually just being something that only humans have somewhere in their heads - it makes the argument easier if the statement reads ‘adaptations are biological knowledge, and knowledge as we commonly understand the word is a special case of biological knowledge’.” Plotkin, Henry. Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge. Harvard University Press. 1994. Pp. xiv-xv.
 

The innovations-decision process is the process through which an individual (or other decision-making unit) passes from first knowledge of an innovation, to the formation of an attitude toward the innovation, to a decision to adopt or reject, to implementation and use of the new idea, and to confirmation of this decision. We conceptualize five main steps in the innovation-decision process: (1) knowledge, (2) persuasion, (3) decision, (4) implementation, and (5) confirmation.” Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. 2003. Free Press. P. 20.


“There is much in the ideas of selective exposure and selective perception to support Hassinger’s viewpoint that the need for an innovation usually precedes awareness-knowledge of the innovation.” Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. 2003. Free Press. P. 172.


“Earlier knowers of an innovation, when compared to later knowers, are characterized by more formal education, higher social status, greater exposure to mass media channels of communication, greater exposure to interpersonal channels of communication, greater change agent contact, greater social participation, and greater cosmopoliteness.” Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. 2003. Free Press. P. 217.


“Re-invention is the degree to which an innovation is changed or modified by a user in the process of its adoption and implementation. Re-invention occurs at the implementation stage for many innovations and for many adopters. A higher degree of re-invention leads to (1) a faster rate of adoption of an innovation and (2) a greater degree of sustainability of an innovation.” Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. 2003. Free Press. P. 217.


“Early adopters are a more integrated part of the local social system than are innovators. Whereas innovators are cosmopolites, early adopters are localites. This adopter category, more than any other, has the highest degree of opinion leadership in most systems. Potential adopters look to early adopters for advice and information about an innovation.” Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. 2003. Free Press. P. 283.


“The continuum of innovativeness can be partitioned into five adopter categories (innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards) on the basis of two characteristics of a normal distribution, the mean and the standard deviation. The dominant attributes of each category are: Innovators–venturesome; early adopters–respect; early majority–deliberate; late majority–skeptical; and laggards–traditional. The relatively earlier adopters in a social system are no different from later adopters, but they have more years of formal education, are more likely to be literate, and have higher social status, a greater degree of upward social mobility, and larger-sized units, such as farms, companies, schools, and so on. These characteristics of adopter categories indicate that earlier adopters have generally higher socioeconomic status than do later adopters.

“Earlier adopters in a system also differ from later adopters in personality variables. Earlier adopters have greater empathy, a greater ability to deal with abstractions, greater rationality, greater intelligence, a more favorable attitude toward change, a greater ability to cope with uncertainty and risk, a more favorable attitude toward science, less fatalism and greater self-efficacy, and higher aspirations for formal education, higher-status occupations, and so on.

“Finally, the adopter categories have different communication behavior. Earlier adopters have more social participation, are more highly interconnected in the interpersonal networks of their system, are more cosmopolite, have more contact with change agents, greater exposure to mass media channels, and greater exposure to interpersonal communication channels, engage in more active information seeking, and have greater knowledge of innovations and a higher degree of opinion leadership.” Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. 2003. Free Press. P. 298.


“Behavior goes where reinforcement flows.” Nancy. Dog trainer in Berkeley, Ca.


“Seeing the night sky in terms of linear constellations is a simple representational artifice that converts the moving field of stars into a fixed frame of reference [speaking of the abilities of Micronesian navigators].

“This seeing is not a passive perceptual process. Rather, it is the projection of external structure (the arrangement of stars in the heavens) and internal structure (the ability to identify the linear constellations) onto a single spatial image. In this superimposition of internal and external, elements of the external structure are given culturally meaningful relationships to one another. The process is actively constructive.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 68.


“In sky charts for amateur star watchers, the lines are drawn in on the charts–like mental training wheels–to make the constellations easier to imagine when looking at the sky.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 69.


“In attempting to understand the history of navigation from a cognitive perspective, it is important to consider the whole suite of instruments that are used together in doing the task. The tools of navigation share with one another a rich network of mutual computational and representational dependencies. Each plays a role in the computational environments of the others, providing the raw materials of computation or consuming the products of it. In the ecology of tools, based on the flow of computational products, each tool creates the environment for others. This is easy to see in the history of the physical tools, but the same is certainly true of the mental tools that navigators bring to their tasks. Frake’s compass rose is there for all to see, but it becomes a tide computer only in interaction with the establishment of the port and with a particular way of seeing the circle of directions as a representation of the temporal relationships of the periodic cycles of the sun and the moon.

“Every argument showing why a particular tool is easy to use is also an argument showing why both internal and external tools are part of the very same cognitive ecology.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. Pp. 113-4.


“The computations of navigation are not platonic ideal; they are real physical activities undertaken by individuals manipulating real physical objects. Even though many of them are symbolic activities and some of the symbols are clearly represented inside the heads of the practitioners, we must never forget that symbols always have some physical realization or that the nature of the physical form of symbols constrains the kinds of operations to which they can be subjected.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. Pp. 130-1.


“The tools provide two things simultaneously. First and most apparent, they are representational media in which the computation is achieved by the propagation of representational state. Second, they provide constraints on the organization of action. This is most apparent in the way that the nautical slide rule precludes the execution of operations that violate the syntax of the computational description. The physical structure of the slide rule is not only the medium of computation. By constraining the representational states that can be produced to ones that are syntactically correct, it provides the user with guidance as to the composition of the functional system in which it will participate. In this sense, these mediating technologies do not stand between the user and the task. Rather, they stand with the user as resources used in the regulation of behavior in such a way that the propagation of representational state that implements the computation can take place.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 154.


“Given that each of these elements makes as large a contribution to the computation as any other, we may wonder where we should bound the computation in time. It will not do to say that the current computation is bounded by this second, for clearly it spans many seconds. Perhaps we should use the navigators’ partitioning of the world into meaningful pieces and say that the current computation is the fix and is temporally bounded by the fix interval. That too is a fiction, because the fixes are elements of a fix cycle and any starting point is as arbitrary as any other. We may attempt to put temporal bounds on the computation that we observe now, today, in any way we like, but we will not understand that computation until we follow its history back and see how structure has been accumulated over centuries in the organization of the material and ideational means in which the computation is actually implemented.

This is a truly cultural effect. This collection through time of partial solutions to frequently encountered problems is what culture does for us.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. Pp. 168-9.


“And in watching people thinking in the wild, we may be learning more about their environment for thinking than about what is inside them.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 169.


“We are all cognitive bricoleurs–opportunistic assemblers of functional systems composed of internal and external structures.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 172.


“The bridge team is connected to other parts of the ship by sound-powered phone circuits like the one used by the pelorus operators and the bearing recorder. These lines provide the bridge team with communication links to the foc’sle, to after-steering, to the combat information center, to the signal bridge, and to other locations on the ship. There is a person called a phone talker posted at each end of each of these phone lines. The numerous phone talkers around the ship are also information buffers. Each pair of them permits communication to take place when the sender and the receiver are not overloaded. For example, rather than simply blurt out whatever message has arrived, a bridge phone talker can wait for a pause in the OOD’s work to pass a message to him. The phone talker can hold the message until an opportunity to insert it into the activity on the bridge has arrived. Someone sending a message to the bridge from another part of the ship cannot know when would be an appropriate moment to interject the message. The phone talker is a sophisticated buffer who uses his knowledge of conversational turn taking to decide when to forward a message.

“Buffering contributes to what Perrow has called ‘loose coupling’ of the system. The buffering prevents the uncontrolled propagation of effects from one part of the system to another. Buffering provides protection against destructive interference between processes running in parallel.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 195.


“The quartermasters align themselves as a coordinating structure that passes information from one transforming device to another. The people are the glue that sticks the hardware of the system together. What is the relationship between the position of the ship in the world and the location of the fix on the chart? The formal relationship is one of spatial correspondence. The causal relationship is a tissue of human relationships in which individual watchstanders consent to have their behavior constrained by others, who are themselves constrained by the meaningful states of representational technologies. The sequential constraints of the procedure, which are in part determined by the representation of the problem, constrain the universe of social arrangements in which the procedure can be performed. That is, they specify a coordination task that must be solved by the social organization of work.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 202.


“These examples also illustrate the robustness of the system of distributed knowledge. If one human component fails for lack of knowledge, the whole system does not grind to a halt. If the task becomes difficult or communications break down, the navigation team does not have the option of stopping work. The task is driven by events and must be performed as long as the ship is underway. In response to a breakdown, the system adapts by changing the nominal division of labor. It is the bearing taker’s job to find the landmarks, for example, but if he is unable to do so, some other member of the team will contribute whatever is required to ensure that the landmarks are found and their bearings observed. This robustness is made possible by the redundant distribution of knowledge among the members of the team, the access of members to one another’s activities, and the fact that the individual workloads are light enough to permit mutual monitoring and occasional assistance. Both the knowledge required to do the task and the responsibility for keeping the system working are distributed across the members of the navigation team. We can think of the team as a sort of flexible organic tissue that keeps the information moving across the tools of the task. When one part of this tissue is unable to move the required information, another part is recruited to do it.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. Pp. 223-4.


“Human beings are adaptive systems continually producing and exploiting a rich world of cultural structure. In the activities of the navigation team, the reliance on and the production of structure in the environment are clear. This heavy interaction of internal and external structure suggests that the boundary between inside and outside, or between individual and context, should be softened. The apparent necessity of drawing such a boundary is in part a side effect of the attempt to deal with the individual as an isolated unit of cognitive analysis without first locating the individual in a culturally constructed world. With the focus on a person who is actively engaged in a culturally constructed world, let us soften the boundary of the individual and take the individual to be a very plastic kind of adaptive system. Instead of conceiving the relation between person and environment in terms of moving coded information across a boundary, let us look for processes of entrainment, coordination, and resonance among elements of a system that includes a person and the person’s surroundings.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 288.


“Learning is adaptive reorganization in a complex system. It is difficult to resist the temptation to let the unit of analysis collapse to the Western view of the individual bounded by the skin, or to let it collapse even further to the ‘cognitive’ symbol system lying protected from the world somewhere far below the skin. But, as we have seen, the relevant complex system includes a web of coordination among media and processes inside and outside the individual task performers. The definition of learning given here works well for learning situated in the socio-material world, and it works equally well for private discoveries made in moments of reflective thought.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 289.


“Many tasks in our culture are mediated by written procedures or procedure-like artifacts, but even considering all of them would not begin to approach the full range of mediated performances. Language, cultural knowledge, mental models, arithmetic procedures, and rules of logic are all mediating structures too. So are traffic lights, supermarket layouts, and the contexts we arrange for one another’s behavior. Mediating structure can be embodied in artifacts, in ideas, in systems of social interaction, or in all of these at once.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. Pp. 290-1.


“In order to get useful mental work done, of course, the actor must be capable of bringing these structures into coordination. As we saw with the coordination of the procedure with the task world, bringing mediating structures into coordination may require still more (metamediating) structures. The consequences of the lack of this ability are encoded in our folk wisdom about ‘book learning’ versus experience. One may have complete mastery over a major mediating structure for some task without having developed any of the metamediation required to put it to work in a real task environment.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 314.


“But I believe the real power of human cognition lies in our ability to flexibly construct functional systems that accomplish our goals by bringing bits of structure into coordination. That culturally constituted settings for activity are rich in precisely the kinds of artifactual and social interactional resources that can be appropriated by such functional systems is a central truth about human cognition. The processes that create these settings are as much a part of human cognition as the processes that exploit them, and a proper understanding of human cognition must acknowledge the continual dynamic interconnectivity of functional elements inside with functional elements outside the boundary of the skin.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 316.


“Culture is not any collection of things, whether tangible or abstract. Rather, it is a process. It is a human cognitive process that takes place both inside and outside the minds of people. It is the process in which our everyday cultural practices are enacted. I am proposing an integrated view of human cognition in which a major component of culture is a cognitive process and cognition is a cultural process.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 354.


“Howard Gardner is very kind to cognitive science when he says that emotion, context, culture and history were deemphasized in early cognitive science because, although everyone believed they were important, everyone also knew that they complicated things enormously.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. P. 367.


“In terms of evolution, then, the hypothesis is that human beings built directly on the uniquely primate cognitive adaptation for understanding external relational categories, they just added a small but important twist in terms of mediating forces such as causes and intentions.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. 1999. Harvard University Press. P. 23.


“Moreover, many mammalian species and basically all primates cognitively represent the categorical and quantitative relations among objects as well. These cognitive skills are evidenced by their ability to do such things as:

• “remember ‘what’ is ‘where’ in their local environments, e.g., which fruits are in which trees (at what times);
• take novel detours and shortcuts in navigating through space;
• follow the visible and invisible movements of objects (i.e., pass rigorously controlled Piagetian object permanence tests–some Stage 6);
• categorize objects on the basis of perceptual similarities;
• understand and thus match small numerosities of objects;
• use insight in problem solving.”
Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. 1999. Harvard University Press. P. 16.


“Similarly, all mammals live in basically the same social world of individually recognized conspecifics and their vertical (dominance) and horizontal (affiliative) relationships, and they have the ability to predict the behavior of conspecifics in many situations based on a variety of cues and insights. These cognitive skills are evidenced by their ability to do such things as:

• “recognize individuals in their social groups;
• form direct relationships with other individuals based on such things as kinship, friendship, and dominance rank;
• predict the behavior of individuals based on such things as their emotional state and their direction of locomotion;
• use many types of social and communicative strategies to out-compete groupmates for valued resources;
• cooperate with conspecifics in problem-solving tasks and in forming social coalitions and alliances;
• engage in various forms of social learning in which they learn valuable things from conspecifics.”
Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. 1999. Harvard University Press. Pp. 16-7.


“A more recent perspective on person-environment mutuality is the enactive view of personhood and cognition. The enactive view has the explicit goal to ‘negotiate a middle path between the Scylla of cognition as recovery of a pregiven outer world (realism), and the Charybdis of cognition as the projection of a pregiven world (idealism).’ Cognition is understood as enaction, or a history of structural couplings that ‘brings forth a world’ either by taking part in an existing world, as happens during development and maturation , or by shaping a new one, as happens over the history of a species. Because enaction consists partially in coupling, the agent and the world are not really separate, because they are ‘mutually specifying.’ A person’s world is determined by the agent’s behavior and the sensorimotor capabilities that allow the individual to cope with a local situation. What people perceive depends upon what they are able to do, and what they do, in time, alters what they perceive. ‘Perception and action, sensorium and motorium are linked together as successfully emergent and mutually selecting pattern.’” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 17. Subquotes are from Varela, Thompson & Rosch. The Embodied Mind. 1991. MIT Press. Pp. 172, 163.


“As James Gibson long argued, our perception of the sensory world is given to us directly by ‘affordances.’ An affordance is a resource that the environment offers an animal, such as surfaces that provide support, objects that can be manipulated, and substances that can be eaten, each of which is a property specified as stimulus information in animal-environment interactions. Each person/animal has a vast set of possibilities for action, based on the perception of affordances (e.g., chairs that can be sat on, streetcars that can be caught if running) that implicitly define who we are.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 21.


“Several lines of research suggest that the feeling that our conscious will serves as the causal basis for our actions may be illusory. For example, in an infamous study, Libet asked students to move their hands whenever they wished, while noting on a fast-moving analog clock when they made their decisions. The participants’ EEGs were also concurrently measured. If willful bodily action is caused by a conscious decision, or will, then participants should indicate that they made their decisions to act prior to when brain processes executed the hand movement. In fact, the opposite was observed: the decision to move occurred about 350-400 milliseconds after relevant cerebral cortex activity began.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 22.


“There are various speculations about phantom limb experiences. Research with normal adults has shown that simply looking at a moving limb can create a sense of voluntary movement in the observer. People can even be fooled into thinking that someone else’s hand, for example, was their own. One study had people don a glove, insert their hand into a box, and then on a signal, draw a line on a piece of paper. However, the participants did not know that the hand they saw in the box was actually a mirror reflection of another person’s hand, also gloved and holding a pen in the exact place where they would expect their hand to be. When the signal was given, and the imposter hand drew a line that varied from the line the participant had been instructed to draw, participants typically adjusted their own arms to compensate for the observed arm’s initial trajectory.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 34.


“The Anlo-Ewe speaking people of West Africa do not emphasize strict distinctions between the five senses in the way that people from Western cultures seem to do. In Anlo-Ewe cultural contexts, a discrete category demarking the five sensory systems is not tightly bounded or seen as a particularly meaningful way of classifying experience or theorizing about knowledge. Instead, in the Anlo-Ewe mind, sensations caused by stimuli from external objects are epistemologically related to sensations that arise from internal somatic modes (such as interoception, which governs balance, movement, and proprioception). The Anlo cultural tradition does not have a theory of the senses, but has a coherent and fairly complex theory of inner states which link sensations to emotions, dispositions, and vocations, referred to as ‘seselalame’ ( a feeling in the body or flesh).

“Seselalame is a culturally elaborated way by which Anlo-Ewe read their own bodies while simultaneously understanding them in relation to objects, the environment, and the bodies of those around them. For instance, the Anlo-Ewe people greatly emphasize the proprioceptive quality of balance. They are openly encouraged to actively balance their own bodies as infants, they balance small bowls and pots on their heads, and they carry books and desks on their heads when walking to and from school. Adults perceive balance as a defining attribute of mature individuals and the human species more generally. But this attribute is not merely a physical characteristic of individuals, but a direct association between bodily sensations and who you are or who you may become. Thus, your character and your moral fortitude is established in the way you move.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 38.


“There are, in fact, three levels of embodiment: the neural level, the phenomenological conscious experience, and the cognitive unconscious.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 39.


“An act of perception is not the copying of an incoming stimulus. It is a step in a trajectory by which brains grow, recognize themselves, and reach into the environment to change to their own advantage.” Freeman, Walter. “The Physiology of Perception.” 1991. Scientific American. 264. Pp. 78-87. P. 85. Quoted in Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 49.


“The fact is that we do make choices, even if it is only to avoid the opportunities to do so or to explain them away. We are not merely buffeted by circumstances like stones rolling downhill, as the philosopher Benedict Spinoza claimed in the seventeenth century. Every choice we make is deeply personal, arising in the entire past experience within each of us not as a static collection of memories but as a fabric of interlocked influences, desires, detestations, and talents that constitute the meaning of everything we do. We all try constantly to clarify this flux and emphasize features that give the appearance of order and intelligibility to our turbulence, and we identify salient aspects as causes, determinants, and rationales. We use reason to search for what we believe are the meanings of the objects, events, and actions in our lives. It is very important to us that we explain our perceptions and actions in this way, so we can learn what to change in ourselves, our behaviors, and the world around us and attain our personal goals more effectively.

“Choices are chains of branch points by which each of our lives progresses, whether to a flowering realization of possibilities or to a dreary dead end in a jail, a failed marriage, or a suffocating job.” Freeman, Walter. How Brains Make Up Their Minds. 2000. Columbia University Press. P. 2.


“Meaning is a kind of living structure that grows and changes, yet endures.” Freeman, Walter. How Brains Make Up Their Minds. 2000. Columbia University Press. P. 9.


“Meanings have no edges or compartments. They are not solely rational or emotional, but a mixture. They are not thoughts or beliefs, but the fabric of both. Each meaning has a focus at some point in the dynamic structure of an entire life. Meaning is closed from the outside by virtue of its very uniqueness and complexity. In this sense, it resembles the immunological incompatibility of tissues, by which each of us differs from all others. The barrier between us is not like a moat around a castle or a fire wall protecting a computer system; the meaning in each of us is a quiet universe that can be probed but not occupied.” Freeman, Walter. How Brains Make Up Their Minds. 2000. Columbia University Press. P. 14.


“As a dynamicist and pragmatist, I propose that representations exist only in the world and have no meanings, and that meanings exist only in brains without being represented there.” Freeman, Walter. How Brains Make Up Their Minds. 2000. Columbia University Press. P. 16.


“I believe that the idea of meaning, a critical concept that defines the relation of each brain to the world, is central to current debates in philosophy and cognitive science, and will become so in neurobiology.” Freeman, Walter. How Brains Make Up Their Minds. 2000. Columbia University Press. P. 17.


“Many studies, then, demonstrate that seeing an object affords actions associated with it. Smaller objects within arm’s reach afford grasping, or more specifically, a particular kind of grasp. Features of an object such as its location, shape, and orientation will lead to activation of specific components of reaching and grasping actions. Particular directions of reach, particular hand shapes, and particular hands will be activated by the sight of an object within reach. These potentiated components of a grasping response are referred to as ‘micro-affordances.’ Ellis and Tucker characterize these behavioral possibilities as dispositional properties of an observer’s nervous system. Under the ‘micro-affordance’ view, grasping in general is not facilitated by an object (such as in Gibson’s affordances), but a specific grasp appropriate to that object, in context, such as a particular shape of the hand, and a particular orientation of the wrist, and so on, is facilitated.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 61. Reference is to Ellis R. & Tucker, M. (2000) “Micro-affordances: The potentiation of components of action by seen objects.” British Journal of Psychology, 91, 457-471.


“Another new theory has been proposed for understanding the links between perception and action or motor planning. The ‘theory of event coding’ (TEC) holds that cognitive representations of events (i.e., of any to-be-perceived-in-the-world incident in the distal environment) subserve not only representational functions (e.g., for perception, imagery, memory, and reasoning) but action-related functions as well (e.g., action planning and initiation). TEC claims that perceiving and action planning are functionally equivalent, because they are alternative ways of internally representing external events (or more precisely, interaction between the events and the perceiver/actor). Perceiving the world is a process of actually acquiring information about the perceiver-environment relationship, including movements of eyes, hands, feet, and body. The process of perceiving both presupposes and affords active behavior and performing an action both relies on and provides perceptual information. In this sense, perceptions, or stimulus codes, and actions, or response codes, both represent the results of, and the stimulus for, particular sensorimotor coordinations.”

“TEC argues that cross-talk between perception and action occurs at two levels – compensation and adaptation. Compensation refers to the fact that in order to interpret any change in the spatial distribution of signals at three receptive surfaces, animals must have a way to compensate for their own body movements. Thus, the system has to take into account the animal’s body movements before it can use the sensory signal to recover the structure of the environmental layout. Adaptation refers to the flexibility of sensorimotor couplings and to the fact that perception can within certain limits be educated by action planning. For instance, studies of distorted vision have demonstrated that perception may teach action and action may teach perception at the same time, again suggesting that commensurate or identical representations underlie both perception and action.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 61-62.


“In general, there is emerging evidence that perception and action are deeply interrelated, and possibly share common neurological mechanisms. This work is clearly consistent with an embodied view of perception, as opposed to traditional accounts that sharply distinguish perception from embodied action.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 64.


“To bring something into visual consciousness, one must do something (e.g., squint, lean forward, tilt toward the light, walk to a window) and not merely passively see. We experience only the things we specifically attend to, depending on our current needs and goals. The rest of the world is simply not present because of the lack of focused attention. Unattended portions of the world seem to be there only because we can direct our bodily attention to them in various ways when needed. Once we have done so, the richly detailed information becomes part of our conscious perception, as if the world had been there all along.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 67.


“On the other hand, more recent AL [“artificial life”] robots start by moving first, and use their own activity as a guide to understanding the environment. Brooks coined the slogan ‘the world is its own best model’ to capture the essence of this idea. The overall behavior of the system is a result of various autonomous activities overriding each other, and not of the system as a whole making a global decision based on centrally held internal representations of the world. Each layer of the system is sensitive to specific parts of the environment.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 70. Reference is to Brooks, R. (1991) “Intelligence without representations.” Artificial Intelligence. 47, 139-59.


“An embodied approach to perception and action sees these as dynamically intertwined, in that the physical properties of the real world are not entities to be statically perceived, but are opportunities for action.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P.77.


“Cognitive linguistic studies demonstrate that there is an extensive subsystem of metaphors for mind, centered on the idea that THE MIND IS A BODY....

“More specifically, there are four extensive special cases of this metaphor such that thinking is understood as four different kinds of physical functioning: moving, perceiving, manipulating objects, and eating.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 96-7.


“People’s previous and current embodied actions serve as the grounding for various aspects of imagination, memory, and reasoning. On-line embodied processes emphasize overt sensorimotor activity to assist with cognitive tasks that interact with the immediate world. Off-line embodiment occurs when sensorimotor processes run covertly to assist with the representation and manipulation of information in the temporary absence of task relevant input or output. Both of these aspects of embodiment work to create an embodied model of mind that is not internal to people’s heads, but is distributed as a ‘cognitive web’ across brains, bodies, and world. This distributed, embodied view of cognition offers a vision of human thought that is far less internally computational and far more bodily extended into the real world of action than is traditionally understood in cognitive science. Once again, this claim does not imply that cognition never relies on disembodied, computational processes. Yet there is an ever-growing literature to support a view of imagery, memory, and reasoning as intimately tied to bodily activity, such that higher-order cognitive process[es] are situated, embedded, and embodied.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 157.


“Jean Piaget’s seminal investigations of child development assumed that growth is a form of individual adaptation to the environment. Even small infants exhibit intelligent behavior, not by thinking, but by acting physically in the world. Two principles of biological adaptation, assimilation and accommodation, provide the mechanism for development of intelligent action. Assimilation refers to the process by which infants use their existing abilities when responding to environmental challenges. Accommodation refers to the process of changing one’s existing abilities to adaptively deal with some task or situation. Most actions involve some combination of assimilation and accommodation. For instance, between 6 and 12 months, infants learn to eat solid foods. The child begins to assimilate the food by employing the tongue and lip action it uses for breast-feeding. But these movements are inadequate for dealing with soft, solid foods, and infants must then coordinate their tongue movements in new ways to accommodate their own actions to the shape of the food, including, at times, the shapes of spoons.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 208-9.


“Piaget’s theory of intellectual development posited a first stage of sensorimotor development that occurs in the child’s first two years of life. The sensorimotor stage is rooted in the infant’s embodied exploration of the environment, or specifically, infants’ growing understanding of their bodies and how their bodies relate to objects and other people in the world.

“The sensorimotor stage is divided into six substages:

“(1) Reflex schemes (0-1) months): inborn reflexes, such as sucking, looking, and crying, establish the infant’s first connections with the world.
“(2) Primary circular reactions (1-4) months): repeated actions (circular) induce coordination within the infant’s own body, such as coordination of muscles in the mouth to suck on the thumb, where the initial occurrence happen by chance.
“(3) Secondary circular reactions (4-8 months): repeated actions involve coordination between the infant’s action and the environment, such as kicking to make a hanging mobile move, a discovery that happens by chance.
“(4) Coordination of secondary circular reactions (8-12 months): goal-directed actions not motivated by chance occur, such as using one hand to hold an object while the other hand explores it.
“(5) Tertiary circular reactions (12-18 months): familiar secondary reactions are used to make new things happen, such as when the child explores how different objects fall from his or her high-chair, which involves trial-and-error problem solving.
“(6) Invention of new means through mental combination (18-24 months): the ability to think before acting by representing actions as mental images or symbols emerges, a process of problem solving without trial and error.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 209.


“But there are several newer studies that have attempted to model the child’s performance on object permanence tasks, specifically investigating infants’ A-not-B errors. For example, Munakata et al. developed a connectionist model to address developmental decalage betweeen infants’ success on the object concept search task when assessed by reaching and success when assessed by looking preferences, an advance that occurs several months earlier. The traditional explanation of successes and failure in search tasks are principle-based – that is, early successes imply an all-or-nothing knowledge of principles (e.g., object permanence) and failures are attributed to ancillary deficits (e.g., means-end abilities). Munataka et al. argued that the principle-based approach leads, for example, to the premature inference that 3 ½-month-old infants who look longer at the ‘impossible’ disappearing event have knowledge of object permanence.

“They propose an alternative ‘adaptive processes’ account of the acquisition of the object concept in which knowledge is graded in nature rather than all-or-none, evolves with experience, and is embedded in specific processes underlying overt bodily behavior. The adaptive processes approach attributes success to the ability to represent occluded objects, which in terms depends on the connection among many relevant neurons, an ability that is acquired through a process of strengthening these connections. Failures occur because different behaviors require different degrees of development in the relevant underlying processing system and resulting internal representations.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 224-5.


“There are three basic principles of intermodal perception. First, global, abstract intermodal relations are detected earlier than are more specific nested relations. For example, global relations involve shared synchrony, as when the sight and sound of a hammer hitting the ground are synchronized. Nested relations are more specific and reveal details about an events, such as that a specific object makes a specific sound when hitting the ground, whereas a compound object (e.g., a tray of cutlery) makes a complex set of sounds.

“The second principle claims that amodal relations are perceived earlier than arbitrary relations. Thus, a person’s voice is always synchronized with his or her mouth movements in such a way that the synchrony provides amodal information. But the precise sound of the voice is arbitrary and cannot be specified in advance. Moreover, it is not possible to predict the specific sound that a red object will make when dropped onto the floor.

“The third principle holds that the detection of amodal relations facilitates perceptual learning about arbitrary relations. For instance, when an infant perceives the synchrony between his or her mother’s face and voice, he or she learns to associate the unique sounds of the voice with that person. If the two modalities are not synchronized, then the association of face and voice will not be learned. This principle guides the young infant through a maze of sights, sounds, and other natural mental combinations and provides a way of organizing perceptual experience that leads infants to more mature knowledge of adults.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 231.


“Infants and young children may acquire a ‘theory of mind’ without necessarily developing a mentalistic theory of the other. Even before the acquisition of a putative theory-of-mind module, infants examine the bodies and expressive movements of others to recognize people’s intentions or to find the meaning of some object. As early as 9-14 months, infants look to the eyes of others to help interpret the meaning of an ambiguous event. Thus, a child can understand that another person is looking at a door and may have some intention vis-a-vis that door from the person’s expressive body movements. Infants 5-7 months old can detect relationships between visual and auditory information specifying emotional expressions. This perception of emotion is especially noted from the movement of others, rather than from an infant having a theory or simulation of an emotional event.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 235.


“When undergoing a strong emotional experience, we feel as if we are in the grasp of an emotion, as if we are being swept away by its hold and force. Many cognitive linguistic studies on the metaphorical nature of emotion talk illustrate the importance of movement in people’s emotional experiences. For instance, Kovecses provides numerous examples of how emotions are understood as forces that appear to change people’s embodied positionings. Consider some of these conceptual metaphors, and relevant linguistic examples, that are specific instantiations of the generic-level EMOTION IS FORCE metaphor:

“EMOTION IS AN OPPONENT ...”
“EMOTION IS A WILD ANIMAL ...”
“EMOTION IS A SOCIAL FORCE ...”
“EMOTION IS A NATURAL FORCE ...”
“EMOTION IS A MENTAL FORCE ...”
“EMOTION IS INSANITY ...”
“EMOTION IS PHYSICAL AGITATION ...”
“EMOTION IS A PHYSICAL FORCE”
Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. PP. 242-3.


“A related study asked American, German, Polish, and Russian students to report in which parts of the body they felt anger, envy, fear, and jealousy. Extending the number of body questions to 31, the researchers actually showed significant effects of culture for 8 out of these 31 variables in the case of anger, for 6 of them in the case of envy, for 9 of them for the case of fear, and for 6 of them for the case of jealousy. Thus, there appear to be some differences of people’s bodily expressions of emotions across cultures. However, once again, cross-cultural similarity seemed to predominate.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 257-8.


“Humans use deduction as well as induction, but we are not as good at deduction. Interestingly, while humans are relatively good at induction and relatively poor at deduction, computers are the opposite.” Beinhocker, Eric. The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society. 2006. Harvard Business School Press. Pp. 127-8.


“Deduction only works on very well-defined problems such as chess moves; for deduction to work, the problem cannot have any information missing or ambiguity. Deduction is thus a powerful method of reasoning, but inherently brittle. While induction is more error prone, it is also more flexible and better suited for the incomplete and ambiguous information that the world throws at us. It thus makes evolutionary sense that we would be built this way. Deep Blue may be able to play chess at the level of Gary Kasparov, but Gary Kasparov’s inductive machinery allows him not only to play chess, but also to tie his shoes in the morning and order food at a restaurant–tasks that would leave Deep Blue immediately lost.” Beinhocker, Eric. The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society. 2006. Harvard Business School Press. Pp. 128-9.


“Evolution has made us fast, flexible, and usually right, as compared with being slow, brittle, but perfectly logical.” Beinhocker, Eric. The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society. 2006. Harvard Business School Press. P. 129.


“Underlying the workings of perception is prediction, that is, the useful expectation of events yet to come. Prediction, with its goal-oriented essence, so very different from reflex, is the very core of brain function.” Llinas, Rodolfo. I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self. 2001. MIT Press. P. 3.


“Brown believed that the spinal cord was not organized reflexologically. He viewed this system as organized on a self-referential basis by central neuronal circuits that provided the drive for the electrical pattern generation required for organized movement. This conclusion was based on his studies of locomotion in deafferented animals, that is, animals in which the pathways bringing sensation from the legs to the spinal cord are severed. Under these conditions animals could still produce an organized gait. This led Brown to propose that movement, even organized movement, is intrinsically generated in the absence of sensory input. He viewed reflex activity as required only for the modulation of, rather than being the driving force for, the production of gait.” Llinas, Rodolfo. I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self. 2001. MIT Press. P. 6.


“Brown went on to propose that locomotion is produced in the spinal cord by reciprocal neuronal activity. In very simplified terms, autonomous neuronal networks on one side of the spinal cord activate the muscles of the limb on the same side while preventing activity by the opposite limb. He described this reciprocal organization as the ‘half-paired centers’, as their mutual interaction generated the left-right limb pacing that is locomotion.

“In this context, the function of the sensory input giving rise to reflex activity during locomotion is there to modulate the ongoing activity of the spinal cord motor network in order to adapt the activity (the output signal) to the irregularities of the terrain over which the animal moves. We now know that such ongoing activity born of the intrinsic electrical activity of neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem forms the basis for both breathing and locomotion in vertebrates.” Llinas, Rodolfo. I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self. 2001. MIT Press. P. 7.



“We can look to the world of neurology for support of the concept that the brain operates as a closed system, a system in which the role of sensory input appears to be weighted more toward the specification of ongoing cognitive states than toward the supply of information–context over content. This is no different than sensory input modulating a pattern of neural activity generated in the spinal cord to produce walking, except that here we are talking of a cognitive state generated by the brain and how sensory input modulates such a state.” Llinas, Rodolfo. I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self. 2001. MIT Press. P. 8.


“[S]elf is the centralization of prediction.” Llinas, Rodolfo. I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self. 2001. MIT Press. P. 23.


“To continue with this train of thought [of having an ‘over complete’ group of collective muscle movements to choose from where each of these is a complex pattern of muscle dynamics], one may propose that the execution of rapid voluntary movements consists of two components with differing forms of operation. The first component is a feedforward, ballistic (no modulation en route) approximation of the movement’s endpoint (get your hand close to the carton of milk) in which only advance sensory information can be used to shape the initial trajectory of a movement (open loop). In other words, we see the milk carton before we reach for it, and this sensory information is fed forward to the premotor control system to help it choose an appropriate reaching movement we should then make. The second component fine tunes the movement. This component operates ‘closed loop,’ meaning that it allows for sensory feedback to refine the movement as it is being executed, using tactile, kinesthetic, vestibular (balance), or visual cues (get a hold of the carton). Feedback fine tuning allows us to alter the trajectory of our reaching motion if we happen to hit, mistakenly, the door or the ketchup bottle with our hand, and similarly to make motion adjustments once we have grasped the carton based on its now known weight and slipperiness. For these reasons, feedforward control is sometimes referred to as predictive, while feedback control is sometimes referred to as reflective.” Llinas, Rodolfo. I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self. 2001. MIT Press. P. 37.


“The appeal to a language-independent system for storing usable regularities in the environment is not mere hand-waving. Details of such a system have been spelled out in neurological terms by Damasio in his ‘Convergence Zone’ (CZ) approach to storage and retrieval of concept-like entities in the brain. Kemmerer provides a very clear example, which is worth quoting at length:

“‘It [CZ] assumes that the various instances of a conceptual category are represented as fluctuating patterns of activation across modality-specific feature maps in primary and early sensory and motor cortices ...

“‘Thus, to return to the example of watching a dog run across a field, the following stages of processing can be distinguished: first, activation patterns across visual feature maps are detected by modality specific CZs that store purely visual knowledge about dogs; these modality-specific CZs then feed forward to a cross-modal CZ for the more general concept of a dog; next, the cross-modal CZ triggers the engagement of related modality-specific CZs in other knowledge domains; finally, the various modality specific CZs may, depending on the task, generate explicit representations across the appropriate feature maps – e.g., auditory images of what dogs typically sound like, motor images of how one typically interacts with them (like reaching out and petting them), somatosensory images of how their fur feels, and so on. The evocation, whether conscious or unconscious, of some part of the large number of such neuronal patterns over a brief lapse of time, constitutes activation of the conceptual knowledge pertaining to the category of entities at hand, namely dogs.’” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 54-5. Subquote is from Kemmerer, D. “Action verbs, argument structure constructions and the mirror neuron system.” In M. A. Arbib (ed.), From Action to Language via the Mirror Neuron System. 2006. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 356-7.


“The discovery of mirror neurons, which fire both when an animal is observing an action, and when it is carrying out that same action itself, also suggests that an animal’s conceptual representation of an action is coded in both sensory and motor terms. But this kind of sensory-motor co-involvement is significantly different. A macaque’s concept of grasping is represented in terms of what grasping (by another) looks like, and of the motor activity that initiates grasping (by oneself).” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 61.


“Learning gives rise to new enduring mental states. The animal that has learned a new behaviour has laid down in its brain some new lasting linkages between classes of experience. And an animal that has learned, say, to distinguish different categories of prey by combinations of their perceptual features, such as specific types of biological motion, colour, size, and texture, has laid down enduring linkages between the prey-categories and the features. Such linkages constitute semantic memory. The animal may or may not have metacognitive access to these connections. And the animal may retain no specific memory of the individual experiences (training episodes in the lab, formative experiences in the wild) that caused its brain to be rewired. The value of generalizing is in data-compression. You don’t need to burden your memory with all those formative experiences if you can distil what is important in them into an economical set of principles automatically guiding your future behaviour. Also, having a store of concepts detached from the specific episodes that formed them gives them a ‘timeless’ quality that turns out to be an indispensable foundation for thinking about things happening other than now.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 65-6.


“The kind of memory lost by amnesics is called ‘episodic’ memory. Semantic memory is the kind in which generalized principles are stored, formed by previous experience but with no representation of the individual formative experiences themselves. Episodic memory is what stores traces of individual experiences, like the face of the person opposite you on the train last night, or the empty taxi that went past you in the rain.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 66.


“De facto knowledge is knowledge transferred from momentary perception of a particular event or situation, by mechanisms of episodic memory, to a permanent store. This process has been expressed by Peter Gaerdenfors as the move from cued representations to detached representations.

“‘A cued representation stands for something that is present in the current external situation of the representing organism. When, for example, a particular object is categorized as food, the animal will then act differently than if the same object had been categorized as a potential mate.... In contrast, detached representations may stand for objects or events that are neither present in the current situation nor triggered by some recent situation. A memory of something that can be evoked independently of the context where the memory was created would be an example of a detached representation.’” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 70. Gaerdenfors, P. 2004. “Cooperation and the evolution of symbolic communication.” From D. K. Oller and Griebel (eds.). Evolution of Communication Systems. Pp. 237-256. MIT Press. P. 238.


“The perceptual distinction between global and local attention shows a kind of ‘doublethink’ that is alien to logic. Animals capable of this two-level functioning are actually using two separate systems, one parallel and one serial, in tandem, and integrating their outputs into a single whole representation. Global attention directed at a whole scene delivers one or more monadic (one-place) judgements about the scene; in tandem, local attention to the participants delivers monadic judgements about them.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 105.


“Having focused on one object, normal observers can ‘zoom in deeper’, treating the object as the scene and focusing on its parts. This potentially recursive zooming in is limited in practice by the small size of the subparts. Topdown expectations about the things we are supposed to be attending to play a part in priming the appropriate level of attention. Deciding whether we like a new wallpaper design, we typically keep to a global level of attention to the whole pattern; but given a page of print, we immediately plunge to a level of attention to the words on the page, and sometimes to the individual letters. Most higher animals have global and local attention systems and can shift between them, so this setup is ancient.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 110.


“An intriguing fact about the distinction between global and local visual processing is a tendency to emphasize the former in happier moods and the latter in sadder moods.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 111.


“Real animals, even humans, don’t know the whole world; they constantly encounter fresh objects, and can categorize them. In this vital function, individual variables, which can be attached to whatever new objects come along, are the essential tool. So the version of logic practically usable by living organisms is not omniscient, i.e. does not have a known individual constant term for every individual object in the world in which it lives.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 121.


“Suffice it to say that enough doubt has been cast on ontologies that distinguish objects from events, or events from states, or states from objects, to keep open the possibility of the much more reduced ontology that I have proposed.”

“To summarize, I envisage a single type of fact, whose internal properties may vary, depending on the way we look at them, between relatively dynamic and relatively static, and according to the number of objects they involve.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 161.


“Nurit Bird-David has lived with people following a traditional hunting and gathering lifestyle in tropical forests, such as the Mbuti of Zaire. She found that all these groups share a common view of their environment: they conceive of the ‘forest as parent,’ it is a ‘giving environment, in the same way as one’s close kin are giving.’ Similarly the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic ‘typically view their world as imbued with human qualities of will and purpose.’ Modern hunter-gatherers do not live in landscapes composed merely of animals, plants, rocks and caves. Their landscapes are socially constructed. Among the Aborigines of Australia the wells in the landscape are where their ancestors had dug in the ground, the trees are where digging sticks had been placed, and deposits of red ochre where they had shed blood. Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion, and science. 1996. Thames and Hudson. P. 47.


“The evidence that members of H. habilis were engaging in prediction about resource distribution comes from the recovery of stone nodules away from their raw material source and incomplete sets of knapping debris at archaeological sites. These reflect the transport of unworked nodules and stone artifacts across the landscape. Such artifacts were not carried for great distances – 10 km appears to be the very maximum and transport distances are usually much shorter. Indeed the predominant pattern remains one of extremely local use of raw materials. Yet the fact that some items were transported, possibly to create caches, indicates that H. habilis had mental maps of raw material distribution, and could anticipate the future use of artifacts for subsistence activities. There appear to be three important differences between H. habilis artifact transport, and that of hammerstones by Tai forest chimpanzees. First, H. habilis artifact transport occurs over a larger spatial scale than the transport of hammerstones by chimpanzees. Second, chimpanzees transport stone to fixed locations (nut trees), whereas the carcass destinations for H. habilis artifacts were continually changing. Third, it is as likely that members of H. habilis transported the foodstuffs that needed processing to the tools (rather than just the other way around), and very often both tools and foodstuffs were transported from separate sources to a third location.” Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion, and science. 1996. Thames and Hudson. Pp. 104-5.


“‘Orders of intentionality’ is a term that the philosopher Daniel Dennett introduced to help us think about how social intelligence works. If I believe you to know something, then I can cope with one ‘order of intentionality.’ If I believe that you believe that I know something, then I can cope with two orders of intentionality. If I believe that you believe that my wife believes that I know something, then I can cope with three orders of intentionality. We modern humans regularly encounter three orders of intentionality....” Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion, and science. 1996. Thames and Hudson. P. 108.


“How could Early Humans have achieved such effective patterns of subsistence, particularly in the harsh glaciated landscapes of Europe, in view of their limited technological repertoire?

“There appear to be three answers. The first is that they lived in large groups which mitigated the dangers of a failure in the food supply for any single individual or subgroup of foragers. We will consider the evidence for this below. A second reason is that they worked very hard. The Neanderthal short lifespan partly reflects physically demanding lives. Their lower limbs were particularly robust in character, which, together with other postcranial anatomical features and a high frequency of stress fractures, indicates that Neanderthals were habitually engaged in prolonged periods of locomotion involving strength and endurance. Their large nasal apertures and projecting noses are likely to have been partly to get rid of excess body heat during prolonged bouts of activity.

“But simply having lots off friends and working hard would not have been enough. The third, and most important, answer to their technologically-challenged survival must be within their minds. The circumstantial evidence is conclusive: Neanderthals (and other Early Humans) must have possessed a sophisticated understanding of their environment and the animals within it; they had an advanced natural history intelligence.

“Natural history intelligence would have been essential for building mental maps of their environment – maps at a vastly greater geographical scale than those used by chimpanzees....

“A natural history intelligence would also have been essential for hunting. Neanderthals would have needed to get close to game for an effective use of their short thrusting spears. For this they had to understand animal behaviour and how to entice prey into disadvantaged situations: planning is essential to effective hunting, and knowledge of animal behaviour is essential to effective planning. Neanderthals could only have been successful at hunting large game if they had mastered the use of visual clues such as hoofprints and faeces, and possessed an intimate knowledge of the habits of their game.” Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion, and science. 1996. Thames and Hudson. Pp. 128-9.


“A cognitive barrier preventing the integration of knowledge about animal behaviour and toolmaking also appears to explain the second puzzle, the absence of artifacts dedicated to specific activities. As we saw above, early Humans relied on general-purpose tools – they did not design specific tools for specific tasks. To do so would have required an integration of technical and natural history intelligence. For instance, if one wishes to design a projectile to kill one type of animal, say a red deer, in a particular situation then one must think about the animal’s anatomy, pattern of movement and hide thickness, while also thinking about the raw material and how to work it. We have seen that Early Humans could think in complex ways about these things, but they do not seem to have been able to think about them in this manner at the same time.” Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion, and science. 1996. Thames and Hudson. P. 131.


“As archaeologists we are left with a million years of technical monotony that mask a million years of socially and economically flexible behaviour.” Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion, and science. 1996. Thames and Hudson. P. 132.


“Cooperation in feeding young spills over into helpful tolerance in other realms. Tamarins (possibly the most similar to the ancient line of callitrichids that originally gave rise to marmosets) not only cooperate with the mother by carrying her young, they also cooperate with one another when harvesting oversized fruits and legumes. During the rainy season when little fruit is available in the forest, several moustached tamarins will work their canines in concert to strip off the hard husks from pods so they can use nimble fingers to pry them open and get at soft flesh and seeds within. The tamarins share afterward with no sign of antagonism, each taking a palatable portion and moving to a nearby spot to eat it. In Saguinus mystax the overall ratio of cooperative to aggressive acts is 52 to 1.

“This degree of mutual tolerance provides an excellent environment for youngsters to acquire information about diverse food sources in a relatively short time. Many primates utter special food calls when they encounter a food, recruiting group members to the feeding site. But so far, callitrichids are the only primates known to utter such calls more often when infants are present than when they are not. These staccato calls encourage infants to approach, expose them to palatable food, and invite them to sample new things to eat. As primatologists Lisa Rapaport and Gillian Brown note, the dynamics of cooperatively breeding callitrichids ‘require coordination with, and tolerance of, other group members’ in ways that foster ‘both a predisposition to pay close attention to others and socially mediated learning.”

“When tested in laboratory experiments, tamarins and marmosets also turn out to be unusually altruistic, displaying a curiously human-like impulse to give. In experiments where one individual has to perform a task so that an animal in a nearby cage gets food, callitrichids exhibit far greater concern for what their neighbors will receive than to other primates, most notably chimpanzees. Unusual levels of callitrichid altruism were first detected in 2003 during a series of experiments with a colony of tamarins undertaken by Harvard psychologist Mar Hauser’s team. Subsequently, similar giving impulses (without the reciprocal component observed in the Hauser study) were reported from experiments at the University of Wisconsin. When the anthropologist Judith Burkart and her colleagues at the University of Zurich tried to replicate Hauser’s findings with a larger, carefullly controlled series of experiments using another callitrichid species, common marmosets, they were astounded by how much ‘unsolicited prosociality’ and ‘other-regarding behavior’ these little monkeys exhibited.”

“A single marmoset was placed in a cage next to another marmoset, but only one of them was in a position to pull a food tray within reach of the other. Both breeding and nonbreeding marmoset males, and breeding females (the same ones who were doing most of the infant care), proved significantly more likely to pull the food within range of the adjacent cage if it was occupied rather than empty. They demonstrated this considerate concern for their neighbor whether the marmoset next door was a relative or not. However, females who were not breeding and not currently in what might be called a ‘caretaking mode’ displayed the least interest in providing food to others. Nonbreeding females were no more likely to place food within range of the cage next door when it was occupied than when it was empty.” Hrdy, Sarah. Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. 2009. Harvard University Press. Pp. 96-7.


“Underlying these two singular characteristics of human culture – cumulative artifacts and social institutions – are a set of species-unique skills and motivations for cooperation....”

“...we may refer to the underlying psychological processes that make these unique forms of cooperation possible as ‘shared intentionality.’ Shared intentionality involves, most basically, the ability to create with others joint intentions and joint commitments in cooperative endeavors. These joint intentions and commitments are structured by processes of joint attention and mutual knowledge, all underlain by the cooperative motives to help and to share with others....”

“... two fundamentally cooperative processes are critical for the human cultural ratchet as well.

“First, humans actively teach one another things, and they do not reserve their lessons for kin....”

“Second, humans also have a tendency to imitate others in the group simply in order to be like them, that is, to conform. Moreover, they sometimes even invoke cooperatively agreed-upon social norms of conformity on others in the group, and their appeals to conformity are backed by various potential punishments or sanctions for those who resist.” Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. xiv-xv.


“To get from ape group activities to human collaboration, we need three basic sets of processes. First and most importantly, early humans had to evolve some serious social-cognitive skills and motivations for coordinating and communicating with others in complex ways involving joint goals and coordinated division of labor among the various roles – what I will call skills and motivations for shared intentionality. Second, to even begin these complex collaborative activities, early humans had first to become more tolerant and trusting of one another than are modern apes, perhaps especially in the context of food. And third, these more tolerant and collaborative humans had to develop some group-level, institutional practices involving public social norms and the assignment of deontic status to institutional roles.” Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 54-5


“If we both know that we have the joint goal of making this tool together, then it is relatively easy for each of us to know where the other’s attention is focused because the locus of attention is the same for both of us: we are focused on that which is relevant to our goal. Later in life, infants can enter into joint attention without a joint goal. For example, if a loud noise is heard, the infant and the adult can attend to it together, what we have called bottom-up joint attention, since it begins with an attention-grabbing event. But in the beginning, in both phylogeny and ontogeny, joint attention only happens in the context of a joint goal, what we have called top-down joint attention, since actors’ goals determine attention.” Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 69-70.


“Mutualistic activities thus provide a protected environment for the initial steps in the evolution of altruistic motives. Conditions that enable individuals to extend their helpful attitudes outside of this protected environment must then evolve. To explain this subsequent evolutionary step, we must invoke the usual suspects: reciprocity and reputation leading the way, followed by punishment and social norms. Creating altruistic motives, sui generis, outside of mutualistic activities–and outside of kin-selection contexts, which may have been the protected environment for other primates–would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.” Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 85-6.


“... Homo sapiens must have begun with collaborative activities of a kind that other primates simply are not equipped for either emotionally or cognitively. Specifically, humans came to engage in collaborative activities with a joint goal and distinct and generalized roles, with participants mutually aware that they were dependent on one another for success. These activities hold the seeds of generalized, agent-neutral normative judgments of rights and responsibilities, as well as various kinds of division of labor and status assignments as seen in social institutions. They also are the birthplace of human altruistic acts, and humans’ uniquely cooperative forms of communication. Humans putting their heads together in shared cooperative activities are thus the originators of human culture. How and why all of this arose in human evolution is unknown, but one speculation is that in the context of foraging for food (both hunting and gathering), humans were forced to become cooperators in a way that other primates were not.” Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 98-99.


“... Tomasello draws attention to a number of differences between apes and humans that might affect their respective ability to cooperate: apes lack the capacity for joint attention, trust and tolerance are more limited than in human societies, and apes participate much less often in activities that yield group-level benefits. I would add two other items to this list: first, only humans can orchestrate cooperation in large groups of individuals with imperfectly aligned preferences. Second, humans show more concern for the welfare of others (also known as altruistic social preferences) than apes do.

“Tomasello argues that the benefits gained from participating in mutualistic endeavors favored the evolution of the distinctive human capacities that he has identified. In this account, altruism plays a minor role.” Silk, Joan. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 112-3.


“It is the absence of these kinds of [altruistic] social preferences in most other animals that makes it so difficult for mutualism to evolve conspecifically. This may be why chimpanzees are able to cooperate effectively in many contexts, but have not managed to achieve the advantages that ‘mutualistic’ cooperation could provide in their everyday lives (babysitting co-ops, division of labor, more effective hunting tactics, etc). In Tomasello’s view, altruistic social preferences arise from the benefits of mutualistic cooperation, but it may be the other way around. There are a number of different explanations of why humans came to have altruistic social preferences: cooperative breeding, cultural group selection, indirect reciprocity, and so on. Once these altruistic social preferences had evolved, they set the stage for the derived features of human cognition and sociality that Tomasello and his colleagues have so carefully documented: shared attention, trust and tolerance, and participation in activities with group-beneficial outcomes.” Silk, Joan. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. P. 122.


“Humans may well be more cooperative than chimpanzees–I leave it to the experts to judge–but we are far from being the most cooperative species on the planet. Meerkats, mole rats, many types of social insects, and even bacteria achieve high levels of cooperation. Cooperation often involves various kinds of feedback mechanisms, but recursive mind reading, higher-order intentions, and mutual belief are only relevant concepts in very special cases.” Skyrms, Brian. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 145-6.


“To summarize a few decades of experiments, I believe there is evidence for at least five cognitive systems in young infants: what I call systems of core knowledge. These are systems for representing and reasoning about (1) inanimate, material objects and their motions, (2) intentional agents and their goal-directed actions, (3) places in the navigable environment and their geometric relations to one another, (4) sets of objects or events and their numerical relationships of ordering and arithmetic, and (5) social partners who engage with the infant in reciprocal interactions.” Spelke, Elizabeth. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 156-7.


“Reader and Laland surveyed the primate literature, recording the number of times that different primate species had been observed doing three different things: using tools, performing novel or innovative behavior, and engaging in social learning. They showed that all three traits are correlated with a measure of brain size. In other words, primates with bigger brains are more likely to use social learning, more likely to engage in novel behavior, and more likely to use tools.” Richerson, Peter & Robert Boyd. Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed human Evolution. 2005. University of Chicago Press. P. 135.


“The evidence concerning the imitative abilities of Homo ergaster is quite bewildering. Most scholars assume that the skills necessary to manufacture Acheulean tools were transmitted among living foragers. However, this assumption is hard to reconcile with either theory or data. Models predict that traditions among small, semi-isolated groups will rapidly diverge, so that even if functional constraints are strong, variation between groups will increase through time. Both archaeological evidence from later people and ethnographic data are consistent with this prediction. How could cultural transmission alone, particularly if based on a relatively primitive imitative capacity, preserve such a neat, formal-looking tool as a Acheulean hand ax over half the Old World for a million years? Combine this fact with H. ergaster’s relatively small brain and rapid development, and perhaps we need to entertain the hypothesis that Acheulean bifaces were innately constrained rather than wholly cultural and that their temporal stability stemmed from some component of genetically transmitted psychology. On the other hand, the sophisticated controlled forms of the Achuelean have no parallel among the tools made by any other species of primate and demand the same sorts of manual skills that we transmit culturally.” Richerson, Peter & Robert Boyd. Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed human Evolution. 2005. University of Chicago Press. P. 142.


“About the same time [300,000 to 130,000 years ago], the first uncontroversial examples of cumulative cultural adaptation begin to appear in the archaeological record, especially in Africa. About 350,000 years ago in Africa, the Achuelean industry is replaced by a variety of Middle Stone Age (MSA) industries based on what archaeologists call ‘prepared core’ technologies. To manufacture this kind of tool, the knapper first shapes a block of stone, the core, with a hammer stone, and then strikes the core so that a large flake with a predetermined shape is removed. By 250,000 years ago this technology had spread throughout western Eurasia. During this period, particularly in Africa, the amount of regional variation in tools increased dramatically. In some areas, highly refined tool industries based on long, thin stone blades appear, based on a still more-sophisticated preparation of cores. At Katanda in the eastern Congo, archaeologists recovered exquisite barbed bone spear points. Untipped wooden throwing spears, weighted for accurate flight like modern javelins, have been recovered from a bog deposit in Germany. Regional diversity and highly sophisticated cultural adaptations, more sophisticated than an individual could develop on their own, are the hallmarks of cumulative cultural adaptation.” Richerson, Peter & Robert Boyd. Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed human Evolution. 2005. University of Chicago Press. P. 143.


“Simple forms of social learning cut the cost of individual learnings by allowing individuals to use environmental cues selectively. If you can easily figure out what to do, do it! But if not, you can fall back on copying what others do. When environments are variable and the learning is difficult or costly, such a system can be a big advantage, and most likely explains the relatively crude systems of social learning commonly found in social animals. Humans have evolved the additional capacity to acquire variant traditions by imitation and teaching, and can accurately, quickly, and selectively acquire the most common variant or the variants used by the successful. When these kinds of social learning biases are combined with occasional adaptive innovations and content biases, the result is the cumulative cultural evolution of complex, socially learned adaptations, adaptations that are far beyond the creative ability of any individual. Because cumulative cultural evolution gives rise to complex adaptations much more rapidly than natural selection can give rise to genetic adaptations, complex culture was particularly suited to the highly variable Pleistocene environments. As a consequence, humans eventually became one of the most successful species of the Pleistocene large mammal fauna.” Richerson, Peter & Robert Boyd. Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed human Evolution. 2005. University of Chicago Press. Pp. 145-6.


“As we will see, unique aspects of human parent-child interaction, a special instance of our species’ singular capacity to share attention, hold a major key to the origin of art. Here the father engages his son’s attention [walks and hoots like an ape] to change his mood. He thereby affects the mood of others, whose appreciation in turn alters his own mood. The feedback of action, attention, reaction, and the refinement of action to shape further attention and reaction provide an exclusively human basis for art.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. P. 7.


“We can define art as cognitive play with pattern. Just as play refines behavioral options over time by being self-rewarding, so art increases cognitive skills, repertoires, and sensitivities. A work of art acts like a playground for the mind, a swing or a slide or a merry-go-around of visual or aural or social pattern. Like play, art succeeds by engaging and rewarding attention, since the more frequent and intense our response, the more powerful the neural consequences. Art’s appeal to our preferences for pattern ensures that we expose ourselves to high concentrations of humanly appropriate information eagerly enough that over time we strengthen the neural pathways that process key patterns in open-ended ways.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. P. 15.


“I have proposed that (1) art begins as solitary and shared patterned cognitive play whose self-rewarding nature reshapes human minds, and that it intensifies its impact by raising (2) the status of individual artists and (3) our general inclination to cooperate closely with one another, with or without religion. Out of these three functions, I further propose, there gradually emerges another major function of art, at odds with the social-cohesive role of traditional art: (4) creativity.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. P. 119.


“Art constitutes another Darwin machine, an evolutionary subsystem effectively designed, in this case, for creativity. Art shows evidence of good design to generate and accumulate successful novelty:

“1. ‘Darwin machines’ or evolutionary processes depend on the blind generation of variation. Randomness, nature’s way of exploring new possibilities, seems an intrinsic part of brain function.”
“2. But without selective retention, randomness alone could not generate creativity that accumulates in force: as in dreams, a cascade of new ideas would take and lose shape almost without trace. Art involves not just private ideas but patterned external forms, sound, surface, shape, story, durable or at least replicable, like the patterns of melodies and rhymes that make music and verse memorable and transmissible. Pure imagination, on the other hand, alters unstably and irretrievably as brain activation spreads.”
“3. Because art appeals to our cognitive preferences for pattern, it is self-motivating: we carry innate incentives to engage in artistic activity.”
“4. A testing as well as a generating mechanism operates within art-makers’ minds. The low cost of testing increases our opportunities to refine what we do through online feedback. And unlike all or almost all other species, we have a capacity for self-monitoring and rehearsal in order to achieve desired results.”
“5. Since we pay close attention to others, art can earn interest and esteem and hence offers an incentive to override the stopping routines in other goal-directed activities. You do not continue to kill your prey once it is dead, but if you know that your work can impress an audience you may keep honing your Acheulean hand-ax or your sonnet and seeing new possibilities as you do so.”
“6. Because art involves external forms, the testing mechanism operates also in the minds of other humans, in terms of their interest. Attention provides the selective mechanism of art. If a work of art fails to earn attention, it dies. If it succeeds, it can last even for millennia. Criticism can smart, but art is selected against much less brutally than attempts at creativity in the wider, nonhuman world, from making new potions to launching new projectiles. Nevertheless external audiences provide art with an efficient testing mechanism undistorted by the self-deceiving biases of the artist.”
“7. Unlike other species, we can imitate closely and therefore follow established forms. Crucially, we need to imitate in order to innovate. Building on what came before underlies all creativity, in biology and culture. Starting again from scratch wastes too much accumulated effort: far better to recombine existing design successes. Even adopting a high mutation rate, changing many features at once, would rapidly dismantle successful design.”
“8. Established artistic forms reduce invention costs by posing well-defined problems and offering partial solutions.”
“9. The existence of established forms also reduces audience attention and comprehension costs, since familiar forms carry both an open invitation (‘Come and join the play of art’) and a formal or generic set of instructions, a prefocusing of expectations (‘Listen to this song/sonnet/sonata/story’).”
“10. In a system designed to secure attention, habituation (the loss of attention through the persistence or repetition of a stimulus) encourages innovation. Since repeating exactly the same thing over and over again guarantees it will lose its impact, art faces a consistent pressure for novelty. Over generations traditions hone their attention-grabbing power (the symphony, the murder mystery, the computer game), but new successes raise the bar for still newer entrants and reward still further novelty.”
“11. We appreciate even minor variations within established forms as worthy of attention and response. With our senses highly tuned to basic patterns, we enjoy repetitions and variations on a theme in art as in play.”

“For all these reasons, art efficiently generates cumulative novelty.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. Pp. 121-2.


“Art develops in us habits of imaginative exploration, so that we take the world as not closed and given, but open and to be shaped on our own terms. In and through art, we readily turn the actual around within the much larger space of the possible, the conditional, and the impossible. Art opens up new dimensions of possibility space and populates it with imaginative particulars.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. P. 124.


“... theory of mind is not a ‘theory’ in the sense of an explicit and culturally produced structure of propositions. It begins in the evolution of social species and emerges naturally over the first five years in normal human minds, not only in Western societies but in children around the world. We can trace three stages of the early individual development of fully human theory of mind: (1) First, infants up to about eighteen months have a single updating model of reality, of the world they can see now. (2) From about eighteen months to about four years, they can hold multiple models of reality in their minds, but do not understand the process fully. They can call up memories of the past, anticipate the future, have some notion of the wishes and intentions of others, understand and respond to pictures or stories, enjoy pretend play, and distinguish these other representations–memories, wishes, anticipations, fancies, pictures, stories–from the world of the here and now. Other animals, especially chimpanzees and perhaps other great apes, dolphins, and other cetaceans seem to share some of these capacities. (3) During their fifth year, children grow into a distinctively human theory of mind, capable of metarepresentations–of understanding the process of representation–and involving beliefs as well as desires, goals, and intentions, a state that no other animal appears to reach. At this higher, exclusively human level, theory of mind becomes not only an intuitive psychology but an intuitive epistemology. No wonder it is hard to attain, even though as adults we employ it effortlessly.

“A key test for this specifically human level of theory of mind is the false-belief test, often called the ‘Sally-Anne’ test. The experimenters enact a scenario before each child, perhaps with puppet dolls called Sally and Anne and a toy room as visual aids. Anne is in the room as Sally places a marble in a basket. Anne leaves, and the door closes behind her. Sally then takes the marble out and puts it in a box. Each child subject is asked: ‘Where do you think Anne will look for the marble when she comes back into the room?’ Three-year-olds regularly fail this test: they think that Anne will look in the box, where they know the marble now is. Beginning at some time between four and five, children regularly pass the test. They understand first-order false belief, the capacity to realize that someone can have a different idea about something than what is actually the case.

“Children have difficulty understanding their own knowledge. In another test they are asked what they think is in a Smarties tube, and naturally answer ‘Smarties’ (a British candy like M&Ms). If they are then shown pencils rather than candy inside, and asked what they now think is in the Smarties box, they answer ‘Pencils.’ But when they are asked what they thought was in the box when they were first asked, three-year-olds will also say ‘Pencils,’ since they now know what’s there; five-year-olds will say ‘Smarties’; four-year-olds show mixed results.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. Pp. 145-7.


“Since surprise involves what people believe and what is really the case, five-year-olds usually fail to anticipate when a character in a story will be surprised. At around this age children begin to master second-order false belief, understanding one person’s thoughts about another’s. Imagine that after Anne leaves, she peeks back through the keyhole as Sally moves the marble. Each child is asked: ‘When Anne returns, where do you think Sally will think Anne will look?’ Five-year-olds usually fail this question; six-year-olds pass. Over the next few years children also refine their capacity to detect sarcasm, bluff, irony, double-bluff, and to read emotional information from around the eyes. By early adolescence they can cope with third- or fourth-order false belief, close to the human limit. Even adult error rates suddenly rise to about 60 percent on fifth-order tasks.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. Pp. 148-9.


“Children’s first words mostly name objects. Reacting to stories, three-year-olds identify and describe objects, announcing the presence of one item or another, or reporting elements in a listlike manner. Responding to a wordless picture story about a boy searching for his lost frog, used to test children cross-linguistically and cross-culturally, a typical three-year-old indicates the stable-features of the story world: ‘There’s a frog here ... Here’s a moon. Those are boots.’

“Children can detect temporal connections, causes, and goals in events before they can follow them in narrative, and they can follow such connections in narrative before they can discuss them there or produce them in their own purely verbal narrative. But in enacting events, or in pretend play, young children perform better than they can explicitly articulate.

“Evidence now suggests that at less than a year infants can understand some of the temporal and causal structure of events. One- and two-year-olds can imitate action sequences in the order in which they were presented. Reasoning about cause, even in novel circumstances, not just through repeated associations, has been demonstrated even in rhesus monkeys, who show no surprise when an apple and a hand with a knife disappear behind a screen and two apple halves emerge, but stare in apparent disbelief when an apple and a glass of water pass behind the screen and the apple reappears in two halves.

“As we mature, we pay progressively more attention to cause, recalling proportionately more events attached to, rather than detached from, causal chains at the age of four, still more at six, and more still as adults. In redescribing events, however, although four-year-olds will have progressed beyond three-year-olds’ naming of objects to a focus on the temporal, on action (‘The boy and the dog slept while the frog quietly go out of his jar’), they do not yet refer spontaneously to causes, internal states, or goals, as five-year-olds do (‘and after went out calling for the frog’).

“From early infancy children can appraise and revise their own behavior in terms of goals. From thirteen months, if not earlier, they can interpret the behavior of others in terms of goals, and by twenty months they recognize causes and goals connected with concrete physical actions. As we mature, we continue to interpret events progressively more in terms of goals. Again, explicit spontaneous reference to goals lags behind implicit skills: it does not develop until five years, when theory of mind has also begun to establish itself firmly.

“As we mature, the right hemispheres of our brains seek explanation at a deeper level and coherence on both a local and a larger scale. By age nine, children seek explanation in terms of cause and goal. By late adolescence, they look for coherence beyond the local episode. With that search for explanation and an increasing awareness of the dangers of false belief comes the likelihood of realizing we may know too little, and the reassurance of reaching for the most readily available cultural understanding that seems to promise in-depth explanation. It is only at this point, past early childhood, that children begin to acquire the local, culturally inflected, religious, or scientific explanations for phenomena as different as dreams and disease.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. Pp. 150-1.


“Play is widespread among animals, but pretend play appears to be an almost exclusively human activity.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. P. 181.


“Other animals, especially omnivorous ones, exhibit curiosity, but unlike them, we also fret about what we may not know. Because we know we can know too little, we crave extra information and deeper explanation.” Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. 2009. Harvard University Press. P. 199.


“Many of the animals that demonstrate complicated thinking turn out to have a fair bit in common with one another and with us. Even though many of them are not that closely related to humans, they share many traits that seem as important as DNA. Hyenas, whales, elephants, humans, baboons, crows, and parrots all have long lives, extended periods of childhood, complicated systems of communication, and their societies are made up of individuals with distinct roles and relationships.” Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. 2007. Penguin. Pp. 100-101.


“Hominid environments became more variable at a single time, and changed faster over time, for some of these changes were self-induced. These changes select for both behavioral and developmental plasticity.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. 2003. Blackwell Publishing. P. 172.


“The distinctive features of Homo sapiens culture – the development of technology; of symbols and symbol use; of regional and cultural variations in material culture; the expansion of resource use; the penetration of new niches; geographic spread, and replacement – all seemed to begin in Africa. But they had different times and places of origin; they originated gradually, and they were relatively uncoordinated. In my view, they are not likely to be the result of a single key cognitive innovation, or even a small set of specific cognitive adaptations. These genuinely novel features of hominid lifeways can be explained by the mechanisms already introduced: cumulative niche construction, for they came into existence over extended periods of time; extended inheritance; downstream epistemic engineering. The result is a series of major transformations of the environments in which hominid brains develop. Human brains are developmentally plastic, so transforming hominid developmental environments transformed hominid brains themselves. As hominids remade their own world, they indirectly remade themselves.” Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. 2003. Blackwell Publishing. P. 173.


“By all indications–including several experiments that looked quite carefully for it–great apes do not engage in joint attention. Various data show that a chimpanzee knows that his group-mate sees the monkey, but there is no evidence that the chimpanzee knows that his group-mate sees him seeing the monkey. That is, there is no evidence that great apes can do even one step of recursive mind reading, which is the cognitive underpinning of all forms of common conceptual ground. If as we hypothesize, the first step on the way to what has been called mutual knowledge, common knowledge, joint attention, mutual cognitive environment, intersubjectivity, and so forth, was taken in collaborative activities with joint goals, the reason that great apes do not establish joint attention with others is that they do not participate in activities with joint goals in the first place.” Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 71-2.


“But in addition, uniquely human cooperation also plays a role in the process of cultural transmission, both in terms of innovation and transmission.” Tennie, Claudio, J. Call & M. Tomasello. “Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture.” 2009. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 364, 2405-2415. P. 2411.


“Indeed, Gergely & Csibra have recently elaborated an account explaining why the existence of relatively ‘opaque’ cultural conventions (there is no causal structure or else it is difficult to see this structure) requires both that human adults be specifically adapted for pedagogy toward children and that human children be specifically adapted for recognizing when adults are being pedagogical–which is typically indicated by the same behavioural signs as cooperative communication in general, such things as eye contact, special tones of voice and so forth. Gergely and Csibra emphasize that when children detect pedagogy, they assume that they are supposed to be learning something otherwise opaque to them that applies to the world in a general way.” Tennie, Claudio, J. Call & M. Tomasello. “Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture.” 2009. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 364, 2405-2415. P. 2411. Reference is to Gergely, G. & Csibra, G. 2006. “Sylvia’s recipe: the role of imitation and pedagogy in the transmission of cultural knowledge.” From Roots of human sociality: culture, cognition, and human interaction. Edited by Enfield and Levenson. Berg. Pp. 229-255.


“That is to say, human beings often imitate others simply in order to be like them. The tendency of humans to follow fads and fashions in their cultural group for no apparent instrumental reasons–to conform to the group in all kinds of non-instrumental ways–are well known and well documented. The evolutionary basis of this behaviour is very likely to be identification with the group, in the context of cultural group selection–which requires, as its fundamental component, very strongly conformist cultural transmission.” Tennie, Claudio, J. Call & M. Tomasello. “Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture.” 2009. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 364, 2405-2415. P. 2412.


“These three additional processes–teaching, social imitation and normativity–represent the contribution of humans’ special forms of cooperation to the process of cultural transmission across generations.” Tennie, Claudio, J. Call & M. Tomasello. “Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture.” 2009. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 364, 2405-2415. P. 2412.


“The notion of perspective–we are experiencing the same thing, but potentially differently–is, we believe, unique to humans and of fundamental cognitive importance. As we have previously proposed, young children’s participation in activities involving shared intentionality actually creates new forms of cognitive representation, specifically, perspectival or dialogic cognitive representations. In understanding and internalizing an adult’s intentional states, including those directed towards her, at the same time she experiences her own psychological states towards the other, the child comes to conceptualize the interaction simultaneously from both first and third persons’ perspective–forming a bird’s eye view’ of the collaboration in which both commonalities and differences are all comprehended with a single representational format. The cognitive representations underlying truly cooperative activities must thus contain both some notion of jointness and some notion of perspective.” Moll, Henrike & M. Tomasello. “Cooperation and human cognition: the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis.” 2007. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society. 362, 639-648. Pp. 645-6.


“Perspectival cognitive representations and the understanding of beliefs also pave the way for what may be called, very generally, collective intentionality. That is, the essentially social nature of perspectival cognitive representations enables children, later in the preschool period, to construct the generalized social norms that make possible the creation of social-institutional facts, such as money, marriage and government, whose reality is grounded totally in the collective practices and beliefs of a social group conceived generally. Importantly, when children internalize generalized collective conventions and norms and use them to regulate their own behaviour, this provides for a new kind of social rationality (morality) involving what Searle calls, ‘desire-independent reasons for action’. At this point, children have become norm-following participants in institutional reality, that is to say, fully functioning members of their cultural group.” Moll, Henrike & M. Tomasello. “Cooperation and human cognition: the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis.” 2007. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society. 362, 639-648. P. 646.


“The ability to take the perspective of others–which spawns the understanding of false beliefs, perspectival cognitive representations and collective institutional reality–is only possible for organisms that can participate in social interactions involving joint attention. Let us be very clear on this point. Participation in these interactions is critical.” Moll, Henrike & M. Tomasello. “Cooperation and human cognition: the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis.” 2007. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society. 362, 639-648. P. 646.


“There needs to be an intentional structure that allows an actor to relate his/her own intention and the other’s intention to an intention that drives the joint activity. In other words, two actors need to share an intention, but they also need to plan their respective parts in order to achieve the intended outcome....

“Even though the third assumption [paragraph above] sounds quite intricate, there is some empirical evidence providing at least partial support for it. When distributing two parts of a task between two actors, we found that each actor represented not only his or her own part of the task but also the other’s part of the task. Compared with performing the same part of the task alone, acting together led to increased demands on executive control, as actors needed to decide whether it was their turn or the other’s turn to act. Finally, using fMRI, we found evidence that acting together led to increased brain activity in areas involved in self-other distinction. Thus, these findings suggest that humans have a strong tendency to take others’ tasks into account, while at the same time possessing mechanisms to keep them apart.” Knoblich, G. & N. Sebanz. 2008. “Evolving intentions for social interaction: from entrainment to joint action.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B 2008 363, 2021-2031. P. 2025.


“Combining simultaneous affordance with joint intentionality allows one to address the issue of how different actors perform non-identical actions upon the same object to achieve a joint goal. For example, the way people lift a two-handled basket depends on whether they lift it alone or together. When alone, a person would normally grasp each handle with one hand. When together, one person would normally grasp the left handle with his/her right hand and the other person would grasp the right handle with his/her left hand. Thus, embedded in joint intentionality, simultaneous affordance changes into a joint affordance, inviting two different actions from two co-actors.” Knoblich, G. & N. Sebanz. 2008. “Evolving intentions for social interaction: from entrainment to joint action.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B 2008 363, 2021-2031. P. 2026.


“The creation of enduring artefacts opened up a whole new world of affordances and ways of interacting with the world in a direct manner. The resulting fact that artefacts embody socially transmitted knowledge about ways of interacting with objects is hardly ever acknowledged in the research on object perception.” Knoblich, G. & N. Sebanz. 2008. “Evolving intentions for social interaction: from entrainment to joint action.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B 2008 363, 2021-2031. P. 2027.


“At the heart of the uniquely human way of life is our peculiarly intense, mentally mediated, and highly structured way of interacting with one another. This rests on participation in a common mental world, a world in which we have detailed expectations about each other’s behavior, beliefs about what we share and do not share in the way of knowledge, intentions, and motivations.” Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. “Introduction: Human Sociality as a New Interdisciplinary Field.” Pp. 1-35. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 1.


“... above all what makes human interaction qualitatively distinct in the animal kingdom is that it is built on intersubjectivity, enabling a brand of joint action that is truly open-ended in goals and structure. This provides the building blocks for human cultural diversity.

“Uniquely human phenomena such as cooperation, commensality, morality, and the inhibition that underlie it, prolonged dependence of offspring, capacity for intention attribution, planned deception, and the highly structured nature of social interaction form an interdependent network.” Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. “Introduction: Human Sociality as a New Interdisciplinary Field.” Pp. 1-35. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 3.


“Interaction is by and large cooperative.” Levinson, Stephen. “On the Human ‘Interaction Engine.’” Pp. 39-69. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 45.


“Interaction always presupposes a participation structure, which itself presupposes a distinction between being copresent but not in interaction versus copresent and participating. This distinction is precisely what motivates ‘access rituals’ like greetings.” Levinson, Stephen. “On the Human ‘Interaction Engine.’” Pp. 39-69. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 52.


“Let me summarize. A review of properties of human social interaction suggests that the core interaction engine consists of a bunch of ingredients, but crucially:

“Attribution of intention, or ‘mind-reading in a broad sense, is a crucial precondition, ...”

“A crucial additional level is the ability to enter Schelling mirror worlds, to do the mental computations that allow us to simulate the other simulating us. Here, we have the ingredient of mutual salience for us right now (reliant on common ground)....”

“A third crucial level is having Gricean intentions, intentions that drive behaviors whose sole function is to have an effect by virtue of having their intentions recognized....”

“Woven in and out of this is the cooperative nature of human interaction–there would not be any point of getting into Schelling mirror worlds unless cooperation was a reasonable presumption.”

“There is a set of empirically observable practices–turn taking, sequence templates and repair among them–which look universal and are only partly derivable from other features.” Levinson, Stephen. “On the Human ‘Interaction Engine.’” Pp. 39-69. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 54.


“For example, in the mountain gorilla, everyday food preparation typically involves using the two hands in different but complementary roles (i.e., manual role differentiation). The resulting ‘asymmetric bimanual co-ordination’ is augmented by the gorilla’s ability to control individual digits of the hand independently (i.e., digit role differentiation). This allows items to be held in part of the hand while other digits can carry out other activities; for instance, part-processed food can be accumulated in the hand, while part of the food-processing routine is iteratively repeated to build up a larger handful of food. Mountain gorillas’ remarkable dexterity allows them to deal with plants that are physically defended by an array of spines, stings, and hard casings. In the process, they display a huge repertoire of functionally distinct elements of action (i.e., single actions that produce clear changes to the plant substrate; for instance, thistle processing alone requires 72 such elements).” Byrne, Richard. “Parsing Behavior: A Mundane Origin for an Extraordinary Ability?” Pp. 478-505. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. Pp. 484-5.


“Almost everywhere they live, great apes share the forest with Old World monkeys–which are not only smaller and more efficient in long-range travel but also happen to have gut adaptations enabling them to eat fruit when slightly less ripe, or leaves when slightly tougher, than can apes. Monkeys, in short, are in direct niche competition with great apes and possess all the aces: how have the living apes survived at all? The explanation becomes clear when the details of their diet are examined: chimpanzees make tools to extract social insects from their nests, and to break open hard nuts; gorillas, and to a lesser extent chimpanzees, use elaborate, multistage routines to deal with plant defenses; orangutans use complex, indirect routes to reach defended arboreal food, and sometimes make tools to gain access to bees’ nests or defended plant food. In each case, ‘clever’ methods of food extraction are used to gain access to foods that monkeys would be unable to reach.” Byrne, Richard. “Parsing Behavior: A Mundane Origin for an Extraordinary Ability?” Pp. 478-505. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. Pp. 493-4.


Authors & Works cited in Comparative Cognition:

Beinhocker, Eric. The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics
Boyd, Brian. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction
Byrne, Richard. “Parsing Behavior: A Mundane Origin for an Extraordinary Ability?”
Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory
Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Lang
De Waal, Frans. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among
Enfield, N. & Levinson. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. 
Enquist, Magnus & Shefano Ghirlanda. 2005. Neural Networks and Animal Behavior
Freeman, Walter. How Brains Make Up Their Minds
Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science
Godfrey-Smith, Peter. Complexity and the Function of Mind in N
Hauser, Marc D. Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think
Hrdy, Sarah. Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding
Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild
Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language
Kingdon, Jonathan. Lowly Origin: Where, When, and Why Our Ance
Knoblich, G. & Sebanz. “Evolving intentions for social interaction: from entrainment to joint
Levinson, Stephen. “On the Human ‘Interaction Engine.’”
Llinas, Rodolfo. I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self
Luisi, Pier Luigi, The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Syn
Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion
Moll, Henrike & Tomasello. "Cooperation and human cognition: the Vygotskian intelligence
Nancy. Dog trainer in Berkeley, Ca.
Oyama, Susan. 2000. Evolution’s Eye: A Systems View of the Biology-Cult
Plotkin, Henry. Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge
Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natura
Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecology
Richerson, Peter & Robert Boyd. Not by Genes Alone
Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations
Sterelny, Kim. The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays
Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Hu
Stretch, Mary Jane & Hobe. The Swan in my Bathtub & Other Adventures
Tennie, Call & Tomasello. "Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture."
Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition
Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate

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