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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

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Comments

Michael

Great post. It really is a pity that Tomasello didn't answer to the commentaries in Why We Cooperate. I especially found Elizabeth Spelke's and Carol Dweck's arguments very powerful.

I think there are still people who argue forcefully that hat the great difference between humans and other species lies in our reasoning and conceptual abilities. In 2008, for example, David Penn, Daniel Povinelli, and Keith Holyoak, published a quite controversial article, titled "Darwin’s mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds," in which they argued that the crucial characteristic differentiating us from other animals is a conceptual system that is able to reinterpret and re-describe sensory as well as cognitive data and store them in an abstract, decoupled format that can be used for symbolic, relational, role- and rule-governed analogical reasoning. They also call into question whether Premack's results really showed that chimpanzees are capable of symbolic logic. They instead hold the view that results like these can be obtained through sophisticaed "entropy-sensitive" perceptual processing. Like Reboul, they also critique socio-cognitive explanations of human uniqueness. For them, our ability for "relational reinterpretation" is the core ability explaining our uniqueness, a capacity that runs deeper and is more basic than language, social cognition and culture.
These are indeed important criticisms that the Tomasello camp has to answer, and it sure interesting how the debate is going to turn out.

http://www.dcs.shef.ac.uk/~amanda/2008-darwin.pdf

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