The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition

The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition

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Description

Ambitious and elegant, this book builds a bridge between evolutionary theory and cultural psychology. Michael Tomasello is one of the very few people to have done systematic research on the cognitive capacities of both nonhuman primates and human children. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition identifies what the differences are, and suggests where they might have come from.

Tomasello argues that the roots of the human capacity for symbol-based culture, and the kind of psychological development that takes place within it, are based in a cluster of uniquely human cognitive capacities that emerge early in human ontogeny. These include capacities for sharing attention with other persons; for understanding that others have intentions of their own; and for imitating, not just what someone else does, but what someone else has intended to do. In his discussions of language, symbolic representation, and cognitive development, Tomasello describes with authority and ingenuity the "ratchet effect" of these capacities working over evolutionary and historical time to create the kind of cultural artifacts and settings within which each new generation of children develops. He also proposes a novel hypothesis, based on processes of social cognition and cultural evolution, about what makes the cognitive representations of humans different from those of other primates.

Lucid, erudite, and passionate, The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition will be essential reading for developmental psychology, animal behavior, and cultural psychology.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 140 x 210 x 17mm | 349g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 8 line illustrations, 3 tables
  • 0674005821
  • 9780674005822
  • 352,635

Table of contents

1. A Puzzle and a Hypothesis 2. Biological and Cultural Inheritance 3. Joint Attention and Cultural Learning 4. Linguistic Communication and Symbolic Representation 5. Linguistic Constructions and Event Cognition 6. Discourse and Representational Redescription 7. Cultural Cognition References Index
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Review quote

Students of primate behavior are one of several groups who should read this important book. It spells out forcefully what appears to make human development so distinctive, and does so from the perspective of an expert in language acquisition who has also devoted much time to comparative work with apes. It is strong medicine for anybody in danger of romanticizing the similarity of ape to child. Developmental psychologists will find here a well-articulated account of the ontogeny of cultural learning, which challenges alternative accounts from the vantage point of extensive research. -- Andrew Whiten Nature "In The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition...[Tomasello] argues that what makes human beings unique is that they are so good at learning from one another and that they create new, original things with what they learn." -- Helen Epstein Lingua Franca
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About Michael Tomasello

Michael Tomasello is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. From 1998 to 2018 he was Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and in 2017 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His scientific work has been recognized by institutions around the world, including the Guggenheim Foundation, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Netherlands, and the German National Academy of Sciences.
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Rating details

184 ratings
4.17 out of 5 stars
5 43% (80)
4 38% (69)
3 14% (25)
2 4% (8)
1 1% (2)
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