Alfred Russel Wallace, who with Darwin gave us the foundations of evolutionary theory, despaired of the power of natural selection to explain the intellectual and technological prowess of humans: “Natural selection could only have endowed the savage with a brain a little superior to that of an ape,” he noted (1), pointing to intellectual, linguistic, and technological capabilities way beyond what would seem required for survival. What kind of improbable course of events yielded this excess of competences? In his wide-ranging More Than Nature Needs, Derek Bickerton takes this problem as the starting point for a novel inquiry into the evolution of language.
Language and Wallace's problem
Vol. 344 no. 6191 pp. 1458-1459
Review of:More Than Nature Needs Language, Mind, and Evolution Derek Bickerton Harvard University Press, 2014. 334 pp.A Natural History of Human Thinking Michael Tomasello Harvard University Press, 2014 192 pp.
Via Complexity Digest