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The Domestication of LanguageCultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal$
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Daniel Cloud

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231167925

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231167925.001.0001

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The Cumulative Consequences of a Didactic Adaptation

The Cumulative Consequences of a Didactic Adaptation

(p.163) 7 The Cumulative Consequences of a Didactic Adaptation
The Domestication of Language

Daniel Cloud

Columbia University Press

This chapter first introduces György Gergely and Gergely Csibra's theory about the existence of a human “didactic adaptation.” They argue that the human approach to the world involves a kind of reversal of perspective, a tendency to ask what things or behaviors are for and to keep an open mind about objectives, instead of asking which thing can be used to attain an already assumed goal. This reversal of perspective is required for learning and performing complicated, recursively structured tasks. Learning the skills for making and using tools in a completely different way seems to be part of the human adaptation. The chapter then considers the broader evolutionary implications of this theory by examining Kim Sterelny's “social learning hypothesis” on the overall course of human evolution.

Keywords:   György Gergely, Gergely Csibra, human didactic adaptaion, Kim Sterelny, social learning, evolution, human language

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