The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from Our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans

The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from Our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans

by Stanley I. Greenspan, Stuart Shanker

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Overview

In this highly original work, one of the world's most distinguished child psychiatrists together with a philosopher at the forefront of ape and child language research present a startling hypothesis-that the development of our higher-level symbolic thinking, language, and social skills cannot be explained by genes and natural selection, but depend on cultural practices learned anew by each generation over millions of years, dating back to primate and prehuman cultures. Furthermore, for the first time, they present their remarkable research revealing the steps leading to symbolic thinking in the life of each new human infant and show that contrary to now-prevailing theories of Pinker, Chomsky, and others, there is no biological explanation that can account for these distinctly human abilities.Drawing from their own original work with human infants and apes, and meticulous examination of the fossil record, Greenspan and Shanker trace how each new species of nonhuman primates, prehumans, and early humans mastered and taught to their offspring in successively greater degrees the steps leading to symbolic thinking. Their revolutionary theory and compelling evidence reveal the true origins of our most advanced human qualities and set a radical new direction for evolutionary theory, psychology, and philosophy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306814495
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 01/17/2006
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 324,939
Product dimensions: 1.15(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Stanley I. Greenspan, MD, whose books guide the care of children with developmental and emotional problems worldwide, is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at George Washington University Medical School and President of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders.

Stuart G. Shanker, D.Phil., is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Psychology at York University, in Toronto. At the forefront of research into ape and child language, his acclaimed books include Apes, Language and the Human Mind (with Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Talbot Taylor) and Wittgenstein's Remarks on the Foundations of AI. Dr. Shanker's critiques of genetic determinist theories of human development have been the subject of television specials, including The Today Show, Discovery, and The Pamela Wallin Show.

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