Core High-Level Cognitive Abilities Derived from Hunter-Gatherer Shelter Building

Determining the fundamental cognitive abilities underlying human high-level cognition remains elusive. An examination of the main activities of our first Homo sapiens ancestors offers a normative approach. Because shelter building was critical for a nomadic hunter-gatherer and required comprehension and manipulation of the knowledge for predicting, controlling and creating, I examined shelter building. I first conducted a theoretical analysis of the necessary steps to imagine and then construct a temporary shelter in the African savanna, including the underlying cognitive abilities to do so. I then compared the results to a case study of grass-hut building by a modern-day San tribe community in Botswana, Africa. The analysis provides a set of core cognitive abilities required for shelter building, which may represent the core cognition underlying our physical intelligence. Future examination of the other primary activities of our first ancestors should help produce a complete list of our fundamental high-level cognitive abilities. Keywords: High-level cognition; cognitive modeling; evolutionary psychology and neuroscience; anthropology.

Read

Advertisements
Posted in Cognition, Hunter-gatherer | Tagged ,

Visiting the Ancient City of Babylon

After passing through the checkpoint and doing the security check, I found myself in front of a replica of the Ishtar Gate; this marks the entry into the old city of Babylon. No one was there; the employees were sleeping. I and my cousin went through a large courtyard, where the “Nebuchadnezzar Museum” lies; this museum was looted by local criminals during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 CE and has been closed ever since.

Then, I faced the processional street. The street is long and is divided into three parts. The first and third parts are surrounded by fences to prevent people from entering. The original tiles are still in situ! Former president Saddam Hussein ordered the reconstruction and renovation of the ancient city of Babylon during 1980s CE and some of the walls, foundations, and buildings were buried and were replaced by modern ones.

Read

Posted in Babylon | Tagged

How Culture shapes your Mind — and your mental illness

Culture shapes who we are, so it follows that it would also shape our manifestations of stress, mental disorder, emotion. Yet, that also implies a kind of messiness that modern psychology and psychiatry, particularly the American kind, have spent the last 100 years struggling to tidy up.

Since their founding, psychology and psychiatry have striven to standardize the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders — to bring some certainty to what can feel like a very uncertain field.

Read

Posted in Culture, Mind | Tagged ,

Cultural Diversity and Global Media: The Mediation of Difference

Cultural Diversity and Global Media explore the relationship between the media and multiculturalism. Summarises and critically discusses current approaches to multiculturalism and the media from a global perspective. Explores both the theoretical debates and empirical findings on multiculturalism and the media. Assumes the new perspective of mediation of cultural diversity, which critically combines elements of previous theories in order to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the media and cultural diversityExplores media ‘moments’ of production, representation and consumption, while incorporating arguments on their shifting roles and boundariesExamines separately the role of the internet, which is linked to many changes in patterns of media production, representation and to increased possibilities for diasporic and transnational communication. Contains pedagogical features that enable readers to understand and critically engage with the material, and draws upon and reviews an extensive bibliography, providing a useful reference tool.

Read

Posted in Cultural diversity | Tagged

Intercultural Dialogue

As the interconnection across and between societies grows, and cultural diversity is increasingly recognized as an inescapable reality of modern life, it is essential that stakeholders at all levels are equipped with the capacities and knowledge to positively manage diversity and pluralism for the benefit of all.

It is with these needs in mind, whilst also recognizing the huge potential of the internet as a space for learning and exchange, that UNESCO has developed this e-Learning platform on intercultural dialogue. The platform is an evolving global hub of resources and information to record, inspire, share and exchange innovative and impactful action on intercultural dialogue among diverse audiences, which will be sustained and enhanced over the course of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-22). Through its broad set of functions, the platform is a one-stop shop for people searching for resources or inspiration on intercultural dialogue and will strengthen the exchange of ideas and thoughts between the many different groups working within this field.

Read

Posted in Dialogue, Intercultural, Intercultural dialogue | Tagged , ,

Why Humanist Values Will Prevail: A Cultural Evolutionary View

Our geopolitical world seems increasingly unstable, and some see this instability as a threat to Humanist values. But I’m optimistic that these values will ultimately prevail. Before I justify that optimism, let me clarify what I mean by Humanist values.

The twin pillars of Humanist morality are values about epistemology (how we should understand the world) and social behavior (how we should treat others). The epistemological kind is easier to define because they’re essentially just ‘believe in science and reason’. Humanists believe that the scientific method is the best tool for revealing objective truth and that problems should be solved through evidence-based reasoning and applied knowledge. The other side of this coin is a rejection of concepts like divine revelation, and of the idea that problems can be solved via belief in falsehoods or supernatural forces.

Read

Posted in Cultural evolution, Humanist | Tagged ,

Cultural Evolution, Insight, and Fundamental Theories of Consciousness

To answer the question of whether or not evolution is (or could be) conscious, we must first consider what makes something conscious. Approaches to consciousness can be divided into two camps. Reductionist approaches attempt to explain how consciousness could arise out of non-conscious components.1,5 Fundamentalist approaches such as panpsychism bypass the problem of getting consciousness from non-conscious components by positing that consciousness is a universal primitive.

Read

Posted in Consciousness, Cultural evolution | Tagged ,

The Origins and Evolutionary Effects of Consciousness

Evolution cannot be conscious, just as it cannot be unconscious, silly, clever, or anxious. However, conscious, sentient animals, including reflectively thinking humans, are one of the most amazing products of evolution. So while the question “Can Evolution be Conscious?” has no meaning, it is meaningful to ask how consciousness–the ability to have subjective experiences, such as smelling a rose or feeling fear–has evolved, and how, once in place, it has modified the rates and patterns of evolution. This is a particularly pertinent question when the effects of human reflective consciousness are considered. However, the effects of consciousness on evolutionary processes are more general.

Read

Posted in Consciousness, Evolution | Tagged ,

Do not Underestimate the Etruscans: Art and Culture of their Own

Many folks see the Etruscan civilization as merely a segue, a follow up to the Greeks and a foreshadowing to the Romans. But casting this ancient society as a sideline character might not do them enough justice. Indeed, despite the importance of Etruria (the wider region of the Etruscans ) in its context as a link between the ancient worlds of the Greeks and the Romans, modern thought considers Etruscan civilization ‘far superior to the traditional picture of a poor relation of Greece and a mysterious prelude to Rome.’This new-found appreciation of the Etruscans can be most clearly seen in its art and architecture – and distinguishing where they leave off from the Greeks and create their own individual style.

Read

Posted in Etruscan | Tagged

Settlement, Society and Cognition in Human Evolution

This volume provides a landscape narrative of early hominin evolution, linking conventional material and geographic aspects of the early archaeological record with wider and more elusive social, cognitive and symbolic landscapes. It seeks to move beyond a limiting notion of early hominin culture and behavior as dictated solely by the environment to present the early hominin world as the outcome of a dynamic dialogue between the physical environment and its perception and habitation by active agents. This international group of contributors presents theoretically informed yet empirically based perspectives on hominin and human landscapes.

Read

Posted in Cognition, Human evolution | Tagged ,