EDST 391: H. sapiens: What does it mean to be “human”?
I have annotated the pages I'd like you to read so that you can focus on their relevance for Paper 3.
- Required: Buss, Chapter 13: Toward a Unified Evolutionary
Psychology--ONLY these 16 pages
- 402 (new section)-409 (top): These pages are relevant because they deal with
how humans might have evolved themselves by changing their environments, either physical or social. Note that high intelligence and high sociality are both distinctively
- 419 (very bottom)-422: The most relevant parts here are the "first" and "fourth" sources of problems (respectively, the top of 420 and middle of 421). They are
most relevant to paper 3 because these problems increase when human cultures and environments are "modernized."
- 422-426: These are relevant because they describe the
intimate relation between human culture and evolved human psychological mechanisms. These pages distinguish between evoked and transmitted culture. Although not discussed
in these pages, cultural change (like any environmental change) can bring out and favor a different set of phenotypes. If the culture then selects on certain of these newly
evoked phenotypes rather than others, there will be genetic selection as well. Stated another way, if you change the human environment, you can make some (already-existing)
genetic differences more salient than they were before, which will lead to (greater? new?) selection for these genotypes. This phenomenon is not widely appreciated outside
evolutionary biology, but it is a powerful factor in the evolution of species. We should think about how modern culture makes some phenotypes (and hence phenotypes) more
visible or advantageous than before. It would have to be while individuals still have the capacity to reproduce (not be too old)
- 426-428: Evolution of art, music, etc.
This discussion may also be relevant. In any case, it is interesting, and I know some of you are keenly interested in the arts.
- Required (p. 4+ on "Civilization's Effects""); rest is recommended: Profile of Steven Pinker and
his new book
on the decline of violence: It is mostly about his history and involvement in evolutionary psychology, but parts are directly relevant to Paper 3--how we are
- Recommended: Pinkerisms: Short and interesting. He is witty and can be biting.
Video interview of Pinker. First few minutes of this 7-minute interview are most relevant, but all is interesting. (Sorry about the advertisement.)
- Background: During this course, we have explored a variety of
views and types
of research into human origins
and human nature, ranging from "bones and stones" and evolved
strategies, to portraits of the human condition
work, classic literature, and popular
- Question: Which of these views, if any, captures what you
think it means
to be human? Please explain.