Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Evolving Insight

Coming 30 years after publication of Richard Byrne's seminal book, "The Thinking Ape," "Evolving Insight" develops a new theory of the evolutionary origins of human abilities to understand the world of objects and other people. Defining mental representation and computation as 'insight', it reviews the evidence for insight in the cognition of animals.

The book proposes that the understanding of causality and intentionality evolved twice in human ancestry: the "pretty good" understanding given by behaviour parsing, shared with other apes and related to cerebellar expansion; and the deeper understanding which requires language to model and is unique to humans. However, Ape-type insight may underlie non-verbal tests of intentionality and causal understanding, and much everyday human action.

by Richard W. Byrne
Oxford University Press, 2016
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