424 pages, 17 illustrations, 5 tables
This bold book asks the ultimate question of the life sciences: How did the human mind acquire its incomparable power? In seeking the answer, Merlin Donald traces the evolution of human culture and cognition from primitive apes to artificial intelligence, presenting an enterprising and original theory of how the human mind evolved from its presymbolic form.
"Origins of the Modern Mind is an admirable book [...] Its author displays throughout an engaging enthusiasm, a fertile imagination and an impressive knowledge of his subject-matter."
– Christopher Longuet-Higgins, Times Literary Supplement
"A fine, provocative and absorbing account of what makes humans human."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Nowadays one hears [...] that hand-held calculators destroy young people's motivation to learn arithmetic. But not to worry, says Merlin Donald, author of this revelatory but demanding history of human consciousness. He welcomes the computer, as well as other forms of electronic storage and manipulation of data and images, including TV, as the highest stage of mental development – and perhaps the final one."
– John Wilkes, Los Angeles Times
"A wonderful book that deserves to be read by everyone interested in the human mind. It weaves together the best available evidence into a convincing theory of cognition, culture, consciousness, and communication – their structure, evolution, meaning, and future."
– Hans Moravec, Carnegie Mellon University
"A radically different evolutionary framework for the understanding of mind and behavior: I don't know when I have enjoyed reading a book more, or when I have learned so much from one."
– Sheldon White, Harvard University
The Organization of This Book
Darwin on Animal Intelligence
A Multidisciplinary Puzzle
Neuropsychological Aspects of Evolution
The Case of Brother John
The Chronology of Anatomical and Cultural Change
A Recent Innovation
From Episodic to Mimetic Culture
From Mimetic to Mythic Culture
External Symbolic Storage
Consciousness and Indeterminacy
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Merlin Donald is Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychology Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.