Consciousness and Cognitive Culture
Art and Adaptability argues for a co-evolution of theory of mind and material/art culture. The book covers relevant areas from great ape intelligence, hominin evolution, Stone Age tools, Paleolithic culture and art forms, to neurobiology. We use material and art objects, whether painting or sculpture, to modify our own and other people’s thoughts so as to affect behavior. We don’t just make judgments about mental states; we create objects about which we make judgments in which mental states are inherent. Moreover, we make judgments about these objects to facilitate how we explore the minds and feelings of others. The argument is that it’s not so much art because of theory of mind but art as theory of mind.
Evolution and Human Culture argues that values, beliefs, and practices are expressions of individual and shared moral sentiments. Much of our cultural production stems from what in early hominins was a caring tendency, both the care to share and a self-care to challenge others. Topics cover prehistory, mind, biology, morality, comparative primatology, art, and aesthetics. The book is valuable to students and scholars in the arts, including moral philosophers, who would benefit from reading about scientific developments that impact their fields. For biologists and social scientists the book provides a window into how scientific research contributes to understanding the arts and humanities. The take-home point is that culture does not transcend nature; rather, culture is an evolved moral behavior.