The Symbolic Species : The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain

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9780713991888: The Symbolic Species : The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain

"A work of enormous breadth, likely to pleasantly surprise both general readers and experts."―New York Times Book Review

This revolutionary book provides fresh answers to long-standing questions of human origins and consciousness. Drawing on his breakthrough research in comparative neuroscience, Terrence Deacon offers a wealth of insights into the significance of symbolic thinking: from the co-evolutionary exchange between language and brains over two million years of hominid evolution to the ethical repercussions that followed man's newfound access to other people's thoughts and emotions.

Informing these insights is a new understanding of how Darwinian processes underlie the brain's development and function as well as its evolution. In contrast to much contemporary neuroscience that treats the brain as no more or less than a computer, Deacon provides a new clarity of vision into the mechanism of mind. It injects a renewed sense of adventure into the experience of being human.

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Review:

Terrence Deacon's The Symbolic Species begins with a question posed by a 7-year-old child: Why can't animals talk? Or, as Deacon puts it, if animals have simpler brains, why can't they develop a simpler form of language to go with them? Thus begins the basic line of inquiry for this breathtakingly ambitious work, which attempts to describe the origins of human language and consciousness.

What separates humans from animals, Deacon writes, is our capacity for symbolic representation. Animals can easily learn to link a sound with an object or an effect with a cause. But symbolic thinking assumes the ability to associate things that might only rarely have a physical correlation; think of the word "unicorn," for instance, or the idea of the future. Language is only the outward expression of this symbolic ability, which lays the foundation for everything from human laughter to our compulsive search for meaning.

The final section of The Symbolic Species posits that human brains and human language have coevolved over millions of years, leading Deacon to the remarkable conclusion that many modern human traits were actually caused by ideas. Deacon's background in biological anthropology and neuroscience makes him a reliable companion through this complicated multidisciplinary turf. Rigorously researched and argued in dense but lively prose, The Symbolic Species is that rare animal, a book of serious science that's accessible to layman and scientist alike.

About the Author:

Terrence W. Deacon is a professor of biological anthropology and neuroscience and the chair of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. The author of The Symbolic Species and Incomplete Nature, he lives near Berkeley, California.

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Deacon, Terrence
Editorial: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN 10: 0713991887 ISBN 13: 9780713991888
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M and N Media
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Descripción Penguin Books Ltd. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. 0713991887 We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Nº de ref. de la librería XM-0713991887

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Terrence Deacon
Editorial: Penguin Books Ltd (1997)
ISBN 10: 0713991887 ISBN 13: 9780713991888
Nuevos Tapa dura Primera edición Cantidad: 1
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Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, Estados Unidos de America)
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Descripción Penguin Books Ltd, 1997. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0713991887

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