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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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Gordon Worley

Although I don't have access to everything Gardenfors said, as you've presented it, his argument sounds like a just-so story. Maybe you or he can provide a step-by-step description, since it's difficult to evaluate such a theory when it's told without reference to selection pressures and traits at each stage of the process. "Encouraged" doesn't tell us enough.

BLOGGER: Dr. Gardenfors' presentation included a slide that illustrated his theory of how the co-evolution of the Oldowan niche and symbolic thinking. The slide shows the features of the culture mentioned in my report and also the benefit of such a culture, "Access to high quality diet." An arrow identified as "Selective Pressures" indicates changes in the physique (increased ability to move easily across the savanna) and thinking (ability to anticipate). These adaptations feed back into the Oldowan niche as an increase in fitness to feed on the savanna.

Although it is plainly insufficient as a full evolutionary explanation, I think there is some value to the slide because it forces us to take seriously the notion of an Oldowan Culture in which people lived in an unprecedented manner. Even if you are skeptical of anticipatory thinking as being the main result of the culture's history, Gardenfors has done us a service by reminding us that Oldowan life was revolutionary two million years before the "human revolution" that archaeologists like to speak of.

Giorgio Marchetti

The findings concerning the Oldowan culture - which show how some break with the here and now occurred - exemply exactly what I meant to say in a recent commenton "What Evolved? (Part Three)" when I observed that the ability to detach themselves from the immediacy of the environment was a precondition for primates to be able to develop that internal code (based on attentional operations) on which they could later costituting their mental activity.

In my opinion, the fact that Gardefors rejectes Tomasello’s definition of symbolic communication as a process of manipulating one another’s attention, simply shows his limited and restricted conception of the notion of attention: a conception which most probably considers attention solely as a tool capable of piloting or directing our traditional senses toward the object of the environment or of the body, but not of piloting or directing it toward itself (more precisely: toward the attentional operations
which always and invariably characterize our conscius experiences, and which constitute what we call the "meanings" of the words referring to those experiences).

Paying attention to something, say A, that is not "here" and "now", is paying attention to the attentional operations making up what we could call the mental "essence" of A: its meaning.

Giorgio Marchetti

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