How did social communication evolve in primates? In The Evolution of Social Communication in Primates, primatologists, linguists, anthropologists, cognitive scientists and philosophers of science systematically analyze how their specific disciplines demarcate the research questions and methodologies involved in the study of the evolutionary origins of social communication in primates in general, and in humans in particular. In the first part, pioneering primatologists provide cutting edge insights into how the study of communicative behavior portrayed by extant monkeys and great apes can provide information for studies on the origin and evolution of human language.
Chapters range from the social and communicative importance of grooming in primate societies, to the multiple levels of primate mother-infant communication, and the significance of gestural and vocal signs produces by monkeys and great apes. The primary focus is how these various types of behavior can be understood as evolutionary precursors to human language. In the second part, we turn to the cognitive sciences, and leading psychologists analyze how facial expressions, Theory of Mind and intentionality, mimesis and imitation evolved in both humans and other primates, and how these traits are necessary prerequisites for human language evolution. In the third part, we turn to the hominin lineage, and anthropologists and archeologists investigate the necessary anatomical and behavioral features required for language to evolve within the hominin and human lineage.
In the last part of The Evolution of Social Communication in Primates, historians, philosophers of science and moral philosophers address how the epistemological framework associated with language evolution studies has changed over time, and how these conceptual changes affect our understanding of primates in general and humans in particular. Specific emphasis is placed on debates on human uniqueness as well as whether or not we can attribute moral agency to primates.
- Introduction: Studying Language Evolution: From Ethology and Comparative Zoology to Social Primatology and Evolutionary Psychology
Part I: Primatological Perspectives
- Grooming, Gestural and Vocal Signals
- Why do Primates Groom: A Tinbergian Approach
- How Primate Mothers and Infants Communicate, Characterizing Interaction in Mother-Infant Studies Across Species
- From Grasping to Grooming to Gossip: Innovative Use of Chimpanzee Signals in Novel Environments Supports both Vocal and Gestural Theories of Language Origins
- Re-evaluating Great Ape Vocal Signals from the Ground-Up
- Experimental Conversations: Sign Language Studies with Chimpanzees
Part II: Cognitive Perspectives
- Expressions, Intentionality, Mimesis and Imitation
- On Prototypical Facial Expressions vs Variation in Facial Behavior: Lessons Learned on the "Visibility" of Emotions from Measuring Facial Actions in Humans and Apes
- The Evolution of Joint Attention: What Evolved and How?
- Do Apes Understand Goals?
- On the Body as Medium
- Bodily Mimesis in Hominid Evolution: Before and beyond?
- The Complexity of Action Seen from Language
Part III: Evolutionary Perspectives: Anatomical, Behavioral and Cognitive Requirements for Language
- Primate Laterality and Hominin Language
- The Emergence of Modern Communication in Primates: A Computational Approach
- How Did Humans Become Behaviorally Modern?
- Language Evolution Requires and Reinforces Inferential Machinery
Part IV: Historical, Philosophical and Ethical Perspectives
- Historical and Ethical Concerns
- Ethical Challenges in Primatology Research
- The Moral Lives of Animals
- Lord Monboddo's Ourang Outang and the Origin and Progress of Language
- Ferality and Morality
- The politics of the "Forbidden Experiment" in the Twentieth Century