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Technology led to more abstract causal reasoning

Gärdenfors, Peter LU and Lombard, Marlize (2020) In Biology and Philosophy 35(4).
Abstract

Many animal species use tools, but human technical engagement is more complex. We argue that there is coevolution between technical engagement (the manufacturing and use of tools) and advanced forms of causal cognition in the human (Homo) lineage. As an analytic tool, we present a classification of different forms of causal thinking. Human causal thinking has become detached from space and time, so that instead of just reacting to perceptual input, our minds can simulate actions and forces and their causal consequences. Our main thesis is that, unlike the situation for other primate species, an increasing emphasis on technical engagement made some hominins capable of reasoning about the forces involved in causal processes. This thesis... (More)

Many animal species use tools, but human technical engagement is more complex. We argue that there is coevolution between technical engagement (the manufacturing and use of tools) and advanced forms of causal cognition in the human (Homo) lineage. As an analytic tool, we present a classification of different forms of causal thinking. Human causal thinking has become detached from space and time, so that instead of just reacting to perceptual input, our minds can simulate actions and forces and their causal consequences. Our main thesis is that, unlike the situation for other primate species, an increasing emphasis on technical engagement made some hominins capable of reasoning about the forces involved in causal processes. This thesis is supported in three ways: (1) We compare the casual thinking about forces of hominins with that of other primates. (2) We analyze the causal thinking required for Stone Age hunting technologies such as throwing spears, bow hunting and the use of poisoned arrows, arguing that they may serve as examples of the expansion of casual cognition about forces. (3) We present neurophysiological results that indicate the facilitation of advanced causal thinking.

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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Causal cognition, Cognitive archaeology, Cognitive evolution, Forces, Hominins, Stone napping, Stone tool technology
in
Biology and Philosophy
volume
35
issue
4
article number
40
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:85087387220
ISSN
0169-3867
DOI
10.1007/s10539-020-09757-z
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
315fc8b3-aeaa-44fc-878e-53779194779a
date added to LUP
2020-07-15 11:31:16
date last changed
2020-07-22 04:21:54
@article{315fc8b3-aeaa-44fc-878e-53779194779a,
  abstract     = {<p>Many animal species use tools, but human technical engagement is more complex. We argue that there is coevolution between technical engagement (the manufacturing and use of tools) and advanced forms of causal cognition in the human (Homo) lineage. As an analytic tool, we present a classification of different forms of causal thinking. Human causal thinking has become detached from space and time, so that instead of just reacting to perceptual input, our minds can simulate actions and forces and their causal consequences. Our main thesis is that, unlike the situation for other primate species, an increasing emphasis on technical engagement made some hominins capable of reasoning about the forces involved in causal processes. This thesis is supported in three ways: (1) We compare the casual thinking about forces of hominins with that of other primates. (2) We analyze the causal thinking required for Stone Age hunting technologies such as throwing spears, bow hunting and the use of poisoned arrows, arguing that they may serve as examples of the expansion of casual cognition about forces. (3) We present neurophysiological results that indicate the facilitation of advanced causal thinking.</p>},
  author       = {Gärdenfors, Peter and Lombard, Marlize},
  issn         = {0169-3867},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Biology and Philosophy},
  title        = {Technology led to more abstract causal reasoning},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10539-020-09757-z},
  doi          = {10.1007/s10539-020-09757-z},
  volume       = {35},
  year         = {2020},
}