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Hominin Pre-Adaptations: Background to the Evolution of Religion

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Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR,volume 10)

Abstract

Hominisation began with upright walking, dependency on fabricated tools, and with the gradual adoption of an ecological role as apex predator. The most important pre-adaptation on the way to religion was the increase of the neocortex, the mentalization of social behavior, and innovative social structures and skills leading to a specific hominin form of eusociality. A Theory of mind (ToM) developed and became part of the cognitive space. Human eusociality is based on intersubjectivity, which is made possible by the symbolic human language which transfers information from mind to mind. The many-layered symbolic representation of knowledge in the cognitive space has a much higher adaptive value than a system of specific adaptations. It develops by a hermeneutic circle between the symbolic representations of separate things, and their relations to the whole. A world concept is created from the particular experiences of individuals and communities. Thus, the inner world transcends knowledge of the outer world. The sense of transcendence generates a holistic world concept which qualifies its parts as “spiritual”. Meaning, a general purpose or aim, is attributed to life, death and the world.

Keywords

  • Savannah hypothesis
  • Social brain
  • Eusociality
  • Mentalization
  • Theory of mind
  • Cognitive space
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Biosemiotics
  • Hermeneutic circle
  • Spirituality
  • Meaning

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-70408-7_10
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Notes

  1. 1.

    There is no room to follow up this argument in more detail. To mention examples: The digit ratio of Ardipithecus is calculated from one single fossil, without information about its distribution in a statistically sufficient sample. The Australopithecus sample is not significantly different from that of Homo sapiens, an indication that the digit ratio is of little use for conclusions concerning the sexual behavior of extinct Hominins. The ratio differs a good deal between modern human populations, without a correlation to differences in sexual behavior or sexual morals.

  2. 2.

    For a scientific appraisal of the project ‘From Lucy to language’ one has to consult the “benchmark papers” (Dunbar et al. 2014).

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Hemminger, H. (2021). Hominin Pre-Adaptations: Background to the Evolution of Religion. In: Evolutionary Processes in the Natural History of Religion. New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion , vol 10. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-70408-7_10

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