Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

The Social Evolution of Human Nature: From Biology to Language

Proposes a new view of the evolution of human nature which challenges the Cartesian conception of the mind
Combines inclusive fitness theory with the (neo-) Aristotelian conception of the mind
Provides an explanation for the unique features of the human mind

By: Harry Smit (Author)

237 pages, illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Apr 2014 | #223878 | ISBN-13: 9781107055193
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NHBS Price: £66.99 $82/€75 approx

About this book

The Social Evolution of Human Nature sheds new light on the problem of how the human mind evolved. Harry Smit argues that current studies of this problem misguidedly try to solve it by using variants of the Cartesian conception of the mind, and shows that combining the Aristotelian conception with Darwin's theory provides us with far more interesting answers. He discusses the core problem of how we can understand language evolution in terms of inclusive fitness theory, and investigates how scientific and conceptual insights can be integrated into one explanatory framework, which he contrasts with the alternative Cartesian-derived framework. He then explores the differences between these explanatory frameworks with reference to co-operation and conflict at different levels of biological organization, the evolution of communicative behaviour, the human mind, language, and moral behaviour. His book will interest advanced students and scholars in a range of subjects including philosophy, biology and psychology.


1. The major evolutionary transitions and Homo loquens
2. The conceptual foundation of human nature
3. Inclusive fitness theory and genomic imprinting
4. Evolution, teleology, and the argument from design
5. Dualism, monism and evolutionary psychology
6. Weismann, Wittgenstein and the homunculus fallacy
7. Language evolution: doing things with words versus translating thought into language
8. Moral behaviour: a conceptual elaboration of Darwin's ideas
9. Epilogue

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Harry Smit is Assistant Professor in the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University.

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