Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains—on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations. Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, mobile hunter-gatherers, neuroscientific findings, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species' genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many cultural innovations, such as fire, cooking, water containers, plant knowledge, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, anatomy, and psychology in crucial ways. Later on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, such as the lever, wheel, screw, and writing, while also creating the institutions that continue to alter our motivations and perceptions. Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and how culture-gene interactions launched our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory. Tracking clues from our ancient past to the present, The Secret of Our Success explores how the evolution of both our cultural and social natures produce a collective intelligence that explains both our species' immense success and the origins of human uniqueness.
Abstract : Joseph Henrich, The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter (Princeton, NJ and Woodstock: Princeton University Press, 2016), 464 pp. ISBN: 978-0-69116-685-8. $29.95/£22.95 hbk.
This volume offers an interdisciplinary study of Reformed sanctification and human development, providing the foundation for a constructive account of Christian moral formation that is attentive both to divine grace and to the significance of natural, embodied processes. Angela Carpenter's argument also addresses the impressions that such theologies give; namely either solitude in the face of adversity, or sheer passivity. Through careful examination of the doctrine of sanctification in three Reformed theologians - John Calvin, John Owen and Horace Bushnell-Carpenter argues that human responsiveness in the context of fellowship with the triune God provides a basic framework for a theological account of moral transformation. Her relational approach brings together divine and human agency in a dynamic process where both are indispensable. Supplying an account of moral formation located within Christian salvation, while also being attentive to embodied human nature and the sciences, this book is vital to all those interested in spiritual formation and the human capacity for love.
This book analyzes the history and development of settlements—from the earliest periods in human history to the present day—from a Darwinian evolutionary perspective. At the foundation of the evolutionary model is the argument that the human capacity for complex communication and unique problem-solving ability have led to the formation and reality of the modern city and its scaled-up megacity status. While evolutionary theory forms the platform for the book’s argument, general systems theory provides the operational framework for the organization and interpretations of each chapter. Throughout the book, the authors tackle various issues, questions, and possibilities regarding the future development and evolution of human settlements.
Is human nature something that the natural and social sciences aim to describe, or is it a pernicious fiction? What role, if any, does 'human nature' play in directing and informing scientific work? Can we talk about human nature without invoking-either implicitly or explicitly-a contrast with human culture? It might be tempting to think that the respectability of 'human nature' is an issue that divides natural and social scientists along disciplinary boundaries, but the truth is more complex. The contributors to this collection take very different stances with regard to the idea of human nature. They come from the fields of psychology, the philosophy of science, social and biological anthropology, evolutionary theory, and the study of animal cognition. Some of them are 'human nature' enthusiasts, some are sceptics, and some say that human nature is a concept with many faces, each of which plays a role in its own investigative niche. Some want to eliminate the notion altogether, some think it unproblematic, others want to retain it with reforming modifications. Some say that human nature is a target for investigation that the human sciences cannot do without, others argue that the term does far more harm than good. The diverse perspectives articulated in this book help to explain why we disagree about human nature, and what, if anything, might resolve that disagreement.
Here is a fresh, intriguing, and, above all, authoritative book about how our sometimes hidden positions in various social structures—our human networks—shape how we think and behave, and inform our very outlook on life. Inequality, social immobility, and political polarization are only a few crucial phenomena driven by the inevitability of social structures. Social structures determine who has power and influence, account for why people fail to assimilate basic facts, and enlarge our understanding of patterns of contagion—from the spread of disease to financial crises. Despite their primary role in shaping our lives, human networks are often overlooked when we try to account for our most important political and economic practices. Matthew O. Jackson brilliantly illuminates the complexity of the social networks in which we are—often unwittingly—positioned and aims to facilitate a deeper appreciation of why we are who we are. Ranging across disciplines—psychology, behavioral economics, sociology, and business—and rich with historical analogies and anecdotes, The Human Network provides a galvanizing account of what can drive success or failure in life.
Harvard University’s Joseph Henrich, Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, delivers a bold, epic investigation into the development of the Western mind, global psychological diversity, and its impact on the world Perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. If so, you’re rather psychologically peculiar. Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus on themselves—their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations—over their relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries? Did these differences have an impact on the development of the laws, economic systems, and governments that now dominate the world? In W.E.I.R.D. Minds, Joseph Henrich draws on cutting-edge research in anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology to explore these questions and more. He illuminates the origins and evolution of family structures, marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these cultural transformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shifts through ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals that the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changed dramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It was these changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, and free competition—laying the foundation for the modern world. Provocative and engaging in both its broad scope and its surprising details, W.E.I.R.D. Minds explores how culture, institutions, and psychology shape one another, and explains what this means for both our most personal sense of who we are as individuals and also the large-scale social, political, and economic forces that drive human history.