Guide Why Only Us: Language and Evolution

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But they recognize that more than machinery is involved. Click here for the full review from First Things. Writing in the magazine First Things , Barr notes— Perhaps the most sensitive point of contact between religion and science is the issue of human distinctiveness. Barr concludes his review with— Is there an ontological discontinuity between humans and other animals?

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Why Only Us: Language and Evolution

Language and Evolution. Chris Daly. Oxford Academic.

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Issue Section:. The blade of this ax has a zigzag edge, with tiny, alternating flakes removed from each side of the cutting surface. To achieve this level of serration, Bovaird explains, he needs a precise understanding of how the stone works, as well as the ability to plan his work many steps in advance.

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Oren Kolodny and his co-author, Shimon Edelman, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, say the overlap is not a coincidence. His research suggests that producing complex tools spurred an increase in brain size and other aspects of hominin evolution, including—perhaps—the emergence of language. Teaching, he says, was a crucial part of the process.

Frontiers | Infinite Generation of Language Unreachable From a Stepwise Approach | Psychology

When hominins like Homo ergaster and Homo erectus taught their close relatives how to make complex tools, they worked their way into an ever more specialized cultural niche, with evolutionary advantage going to those individuals who were not only adept at making and using complex tools, but who were also able— at the same time —to communicate in more and more sophisticated ways.

Kolodny points out what might seem like a contradiction in this notion: Many species of ape use tools in sequence-dependent ways and also have highly developed levels of communication.

The technical term is exaptation , a word coined by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould to describe an evolutionary event in which a biological function is repurposed for an alternate use. Rudimentary language, which evolved in the context of toolmaking and teaching, was ultimately able to break away from its immediate contexts—this is the hijacking part—eventually employing those original cognitive pathways for its own unique purposes.