Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

Living Edition
| Editors: Michael A. Peters

Mimesis Theory, Learning, and Polysemiotic Communication

  • Jordan ZlatevEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_672-1



Discussions on what makes human cognition and learning unique in the animal world often focus on language. But language could not have evolved in our species, and cannot be learned by children or adults without a more fundamental cognitive-semiotic capacity: mimesis. This thesis was first suggested by the ancient Greeks and was forcibly elaborated by Donald (2013), within a general theory of human cognitive evolution with considerable support in the literature (Nelson 1998; Zlatev 2008). This theory claims that mimesis constitutes a key adaptation in our hominine ancestors that greatly facilitated the rehearsal of complex skills and the ability to imitate and learn culture-specific behaviors from others. It allowed the creation of bodily representations that could themselves be imitated, leading to a shared representational culture, prior to the subsequent evolution of a...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Semiotics, Centre for Languages and LiteratureLund UniversityLundSweden

Section editors and affiliations

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada