Overhead 3:Arguments against the Evolutionary Psychology of Cosmides and Tooby (1994 and Internet site 1999)

1. The Standard Social Science Model could be at least partly correct: one of the things that happened during human evolution was the development of very powerful general learning abilities.

2. Donald (1991, 1993) has given one speculative but well argued account of how this may have happened.

  • Homo Erectus had a cognitive breakthrough in the ability to copy movements and motor skills which allowed the social transmission of tool-using technology. This acted as a "pre-adaptation" for speech.

  • At some later point the competence to learn languages and invent new words evolved, which has general purpose applications even if some of the competence is innate. Oral language produces narrative thought.

  • The "third transition" is technological rather than biological: it is the cultural invention of graphic, numerical and writing systems. This is still continuing in that "electronic knowledge representation, and computer-coordinated planning and problem-solving, are affecting the relative roles of individual minds..." (Donald, 1993; p 348)

  • Part of the reason for these changes lies in the increased size and plasticity of the human brain which allows for the learning of different skills in different cultures. That is, the nature of biological evolution in Homo sapiens allows for stronger cultural influence.