10 Jul 2009 4:30pm - 6:00pm Dept of Social Anthropology, Free School Lane, New Museums Site


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.

For CV and recent papers: www.citrona.com

'In association with the Darwin Festival'  http://www.darwin2009.cam.ac.uk/


All welcome. No registration required.

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