Darwin and the Descent of Emotionally Modern Man: How humans became such "other-regarding" apes
(50 minute illustrated lecture)
Prof. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (Department of Anthropology, University of California)
In line with their common ancestry, humans are remarkably similar to other apes. Like their larger brained, bipedal "cousins", Great Apes also use tools and exhibit a rudimentary understanding of causality and Theory of Mind. However, unique among apes, humans possess much greater mutual understanding. In this lecture I will explain why I am convinced that the psychological and emotional underpinnings for apes to care so much about what others intend and feel emerged as a byproduct of shared parental and alloparental care and provisioning of young, what sociobiologists refer to as "cooperative breeding". According to widely accepted chronology, large-brained, anatomically modern humans evolved around 150,000 years ago, and behaviorally modern humans, capable of symbolic thought and language, more recently still, between 50-80,000 years ago. But (I argue) these emotionally modern humans, newly interested in the mental and subjective states of others and characterized by prosocial impulses to give and share, emerged far earlier evolving in the hominin line as early as the beginning of the Pleistocene, 1.8 million years ago.
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'In association with the Darwin Festival' http://www.darwin2009.cam.ac.uk/
All welcome. No registration required.
Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum