The Descent of Humanity: The Biological Roots of Human Consciousness, Culture and History

Chapter
Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 8)

Abstract

The notion of species-specific modelling allows us to construct taxonomies of mental models, based on the concept of qualia, such as posing ‘invariant requests to neural processes’, supporting networks of which are subject to selective pressures. The selection is based on their respective capacity to differently adapt to behaviour patterns, which neural networks control. For extremely premature births, thanks to foetalization, in Homo sapiens sapiens, specific neural groups are offered for selection in early critical periods of development and in a social environment. As a consequence, far beyond any other primate, new cognitive devices are developed, which lead to a high level of abstract thinking. Therefore, the reproposition of the cultural-historical psychology is important. Foetalization and education are the two pillars that give rise to the human being’s ability to accumulate a perceivable and collective knowledge, which is precluded to other animal cultures. These are the roots both of consciousness and of the specific mechanisms that give rise to transmissibility and variability and adaptability of the human cultures. The key to this evolutionary quantum leap is the advent of a new class of replicators: memes, defined as informational patterns of a signic nature with a metaphorical, relational organization; memes are the basic framework in the structure of personality both in individuals and in social groups.

Keywords

Qualia Consciousness Awareness Mental representations Abstract thinking Metaphor Biosemiotic epistemology Conscious and unconscious metaphors Memetics 

References

  1. Antiseri, D. (1986). Epistemologia evoluzionistica: da Mach a Popper. Nuova civiltà delle macchine online, 1(13), 111.Google Scholar
  2. Barbieri, M. (2010). On the origin of language. A bridge between biolinguistics and biosemiotics. Biosemiotics, 3(2), 201–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bencivenga, E. (1997). A theory of language and mind. Berkeley: University California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Benitez Bribiesca, L. (2001). Memetics: A dangerous idea. Interciencia: Revista de Ciencia y Technologia de América (Venezuela: Asociación Interciencia), 26(1), 29–31.Google Scholar
  5. Bolk, L. (1926). Das Problem der Menschwerdung. Jena: Gustav Fischer.Google Scholar
  6. Boltzmann, L. (1905). Über die Frage nach der objektiven Existenz der Vorgänge in der unbelebten Natur. In Populäre Schriften. Leipzig: Barth.Google Scholar
  7. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (1985). Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cavalli-Sforza, L., & Feldman, M. (1973). Cultural versus biological inheritance: Phenotypic transmission from parents to children. Human Genetics, 25, 618–637.Google Scholar
  9. Calvin, W. (1996). The Cerebral code: Thinking a thought in the mosaics of the mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cloak, F. T. (1975). Is a cultural ethology possible? Human Ecology, 3, 161–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Damásio, A. R. (1994). Descartes’ error emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York: Avon Books.Google Scholar
  12. Damásio, A. R. (1999). The feeling of what happens, body, emotion and the making of consciousness. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  13. Danesi, M. (2008). Towards a standard terminology for (bio)semiotics. In M. Barbieri (Ed.), Introduction to biosemiotics. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dawkins, R. (1982). The extended phenotype. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Deacon, T. W. (1997). The symbolic species. The coevolution of language and the brain. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  17. Deacon, T. W. (1999). Editorial: Memes as signs. The trouble with memes (and what to do about it). The Semiotic Review of Books, 10(3), 1–3.Google Scholar
  18. DeHaan, R. L. (1959). Cardia bifida and the development of pacemaker function in the early chicken heart. Developmental Biology, 1, 586–602.Google Scholar
  19. Demuth, J. P., Bie, T. D., Stajich, J. E., Cristianini, N., & Hahn, M. W. (2006). The evolution of mammalian gene families. PLoS ONE, 1(1), e85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dennett, D. C. (1988). Quining qualia. In A. Marcel & E. Bisiach (Eds.), Consciousness in contemporary science. Oxford University Press: Oxford.Google Scholar
  21. Dennett, D. (1991), Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.Google Scholar
  22. Dennett, D. C. (1994). Instead of qualia. In A. Revonsuo & M. Kamppinen (Eds.), Consciousness in philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  23. Dennett, D. C. (1995). Darwin’s dangerous idea: Evolution and the meanings of life. New York: Simon &Schuster.Google Scholar
  24. Dennett, D. C. (1999, March 28). The evolution of culture. The Charles Simonyi lecture, Oxford University, Feb 17, 1999. Edge, 52.Google Scholar
  25. Donald, M. W. (2001). A mind so rare: The evolution of human consciousness. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  26. Edelman, G. M. (1987). Neural Darwinism. The theory of neuronal group selection. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  27. Edelman, G. M. (2006). Second nature: Brain science and human knowledge. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Edelman, G. M., & Gally, J. A. (2001). Degeneracy and complexity in biological systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98(24), 13763–13768.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Edelman, G. M., & Mountcastle, V. M. (1978). Mindful brain: Cortical organization and the group-selective theory of higher brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  30. Favareau, D. (2008). The evolutionary history of biosemiotics. In M. Barbieri (Ed.), Introduction to biosemiotics. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  31. Fodor, J. A. (1983). Modularity of mind: An essay on faculty psychology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Gould, S. J. (1997). Darwinian fundamentalism. New York Review of Books, 44(10), 34–37.Google Scholar
  33. Hebb, D. O. (1949). The organization of behavior: A neuropsychological theory. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  34. Henson, K. (1987, August). Memetics and the modular-mind. Analog.Google Scholar
  35. Hermans, H. J. M. (2001). The dialogical self: Toward a theory of personal and cultural positioning. Culture & Psychology, 7, 243–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  37. Hermans, H. J. M., Kempen, H. J. G., & van Loon, R. J. P. (1992). The dialogical self: Beyond individualism and rationalism. American Psychologist, 47, 23–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Heylighen, F. (1993–2001). Memetics. In Principia cybernetica web. Retrieved from http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/MEMES.html
  39. Hubel, D. H., & Wiesel T. N. (1963). Receptive fields of cells in striate cortex of very young, visually inexperienced kittens. Journal of Neurophysiology, 26, 994–1002. Retrieved from http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/26/6/994 Google Scholar
  40. Jablonka, E., Lamb, M., & Eytan, A. (1998). ‘Lamarckian’ mechanisms in Darwinian evolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 13(5), 206–210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jaynes, J. (1976). The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  42. Jaynes, J. (1986). Consciousness and the voices of the mind. Canadian Psychology, 27(2), 128–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kilpinen, E. (2008). Memes versus signs. On the use of meaning concepts about nature and culture. Semiotica, 171(1/4), 215–237.Google Scholar
  44. Kull, K. (2000). Copy versus translate, meme versus sign: Development of biological textuality. European Journal for Semiotic Studies, 12(1), 101–120.Google Scholar
  45. Kull, K., Deacon, T., Emmeche, C., Hoffmeyer, J., & Stjernfelt, F. (2009). Theses on biosemiotics: Prolegomena to a theoretical biology. Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution, and Cognition, 4(2), 167–173.Google Scholar
  46. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  47. Lawley, J., & Tompkins, P. (1996, August). And, what kind of a man is David Grove? Rapport, Issue 33. Retrieved from http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/articles/37/1/And-what-kind-of-a-man-is-David-Grove/Page1.html
  48. Lawley, J., & Tompkins, P. (2000). Metaphors in mind: Transformation through symbolic modelling. London: The Developing Company Press.Google Scholar
  49. Lewis, C. I. (1929). Mind and the world order. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  50. Llinas, R. (2001). I of the vortex: From neurons to self. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  51. Lorenz, K. (1977). Behind the mirror, a search for a natural history of human knowledge. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. (Original Ed. Lorenz, K. (1973). Die Rückseite des Spiegels. Versuch einer Naturgeschichte des menschlichen Erkennens. München/Zürich: Pieper).Google Scholar
  52. Luria, A. R. (1976). Cognitive development its cultural and social foundations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original Ed. Lurija, A. R. (1974). Istoričeskoe razvitie poznavatel’nyh processov. Moskva: M.G.U).Google Scholar
  53. Matte Blanco, I. (1975). The unconscious as infinite sets: An essay in bi-logic. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  54. Matte Blanco, I. (1988). Thinking, feeling, and being: Clinical reflections on the fundamental antinomy of human beings and world. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  55. Maturana, H., & Varela, F. (1985). El Árbol del Conocimiento: Las bases biológicas del entendimiento humano. Santiago: Editorial Universitaria. (Engl. Ed. Maturana, H., & Varela, F., (1987). The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding. Boston: Shambhala).Google Scholar
  56. Maynard Smith, J., & Szathmáry, E. (1997). The major transitions in evolution. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Maynard Smith, J., & Szathmáry, E. (1999). The origins of life: From the birth of life to the origin of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  59. Mininni, G. (2003). Il discorso come forma di vita. Napoli: Guida.Google Scholar
  60. Mininni, G. (2008). La mente come orizzonte di senso. In M. Maldonato (Ed.), L’Universo della Mente. Roma: Meltemi.Google Scholar
  61. Osgood, C. E., Suci, G. J., & Tannenbaum, P. H. (1957). The measurement of meaning. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  62. Peirce, C. S. (1931–58). The collected papers of C. S. Peirce, vols. 1–6, ed. Charles (C. Hartshorne & P. Weiss Eds.); vols. 7–8, (A. W. Burks Ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Portmann, A. (1941). Die Tragzeiten der Primaten und die Dauer der Schwangerschaft beim Menschen: ein Problem der vergleichen Biologie. Revue suisse de zoologie, 48, 511–518Google Scholar
  64. Portmann, A. (1945). Die Ontogenese des Menschen als Problem der Evolutionsforschung. Verhandlungen der Schweizer Naturforschenden Gesellschaft, 125, 44–53.Google Scholar
  65. Recchia-Luciani, A. N. M. (2005). Menti che generano metafore e metafore che generano coscienze, In Per una genealogia dell’autocoscienza Soggettività, esperienza, cognizione (2ª parte, M. Cappuccio Ed.), Élites, 4/2005, pp. 21–34. Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino.Google Scholar
  66. Recchia-Luciani, A. N. M. (2006). Biologia del dispositivo metaforico. In S. Ghiazza (Ed.), La metafora tra letteratura e scienza. Bari: Servizio Editoriale Universitario.Google Scholar
  67. Recchia-Luciani, A. N. M. (2007). Biologia della Coscienza. In M. Maldonato (Ed.), La Coscienza – come la biologia inventa la cultura. Napoli: Alfredo Guida Editore.Google Scholar
  68. Recchia-Luciani, A. N. M. (2009) Memorie oltre le generazioni. Memi, segni e neuroscienze cognitive per un’ipotesi evolutiva della cultura. Chora, 16(7), 89–95, Milano: Alboversorio.Google Scholar
  69. Recchia-Luciani, A. N. M. (2012). Manipulating representations. Biosemiotics, 5(1), 95–120.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Savage-Rumbaugh, E. S., & Lewin, R. (1996). Kanzi: The Ape at the brink of the human mind. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  71. Schacter, D. (2001). Forgotten ideas, neglected pioneers: Richard Semon and the story of memory. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  72. Sebeok, T. A., & Danesi, M. (2000). The forms of meaning: Modeling systems theory and semiotics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Segerdahl, P., Fields, W. M., & Savage-Rumbaugh, E. S. (2005). Kanzi’s primal language: The cultural initiation of apes into language. London: Palgrave/Macmillan.Google Scholar
  74. Thompson, R. K. R., & Oden, D. L. (2000). Categorical perception and conceptual judgments by nonhuman primates: The paleological monkey and the analogical ape. Cognitive Science, 24(3), 363–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Tinbergen, N. (1951). The study of instinct (“Based on a series of lectures given in New York, 1947, under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University”). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  76. Tinbergen, N. (1953). The herring gull’s world. London: Collins.Google Scholar
  77. Vico, G. (1744). Principj di una scienza nuova. In Opere (A. Battistini Ed., It. Trans.). Milano: Mondadori.Google Scholar
  78. Vygotskij, L. S. (1934). Myšlenie i reč´. Psihologičeskie issledovanija. Moskvà-Leningrad: Gosudarstvennoe social´no-èkonomiceskoe izdatel´stvo. (It. Ed. Vygotskij, L.S. (1990) Pensiero e linguaggio. Ricerche psicologiche. Bari: Laterza).Google Scholar
  79. Vygotskij, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (It. Ed. Vygotskij, L. S. (1978) Il Processo Cognitivo. Torino: Boringhieri).Google Scholar
  80. Wiesel, T. N., & Hubel, D. H. (1963). Effects of visual deprivation on morphology and physiology of cells in the cat’s lateral geniculate body. Journal of Neurophysiology, 26, 978–993. Retrieved from http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/26/6/978 Google Scholar
  81. Wiesel, T. N., & Hubel, D. H. (1963). Single-cell responses in striate cortex of kittens deprived of vision in one eye. Journal of Neurophysiology, 26, 1003–1017. Retrieved from http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/26/6/1003 Google Scholar
  82. Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università degli Studi della BasilicataMateraItaly

Personalised recommendations