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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

« Brains and Vocalization | Main | The Biology of Chatter »

Comments

gregorylent

you might benefit from a bit of study of sanskrit ...

guys have been thinking about your thoughts about for centuries, and relating them to consciousness, reality, being, vibration, etc ... huge literature on this, a bit smarter than western efforts, imo

in sanskrit, start with the word vak
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BLOGGER: Yes, Sanskrit is important. I've even thought of studying it, more or less for the heck of it, but it still remains a few tasks down on my todo list.

J. Goard

That observation leads us to the conclusion that only humans are imaginative enough to benefit from considering neutral topics, but that comment just leads us back to the problem: why are we the only ones who are so smart?

Are you familiar with Frost's poem "Out- Out-"? Basically, a kid is gazing at the mountains, imagining remote stuff, while cutting firewood with a big bandsaw. He gets his hand cut off and dies. The final lines describe the other workers:

No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their afairs.

The "gray ceiling" hypothesis focuses on the costs of growing and maintaining thinking power, but we should also consider the potential costs of thinking too much when not adequately constrained.

It's easy to look at ourselves now and bask in the glory of our speech triangles, with their diverse topics often far removed from the Here and Now and Me. But add a little bit of that to most animals in their natural environments, and it's likely to get them killed off as swiftly as Frost's young dreamer. If that kid was ever gonna become a professional poet, he was gonna have to survive enough "buzzsaw" situations to earn enough for college, while also maintaining and nurturing his reverie. In the early stages of evolving symbolic communication, there may very well be such a deep and long trough.

J. Goard

I should add that this basically reverses the question. Why should hominids have survived the early stages of distraction from the self and the immediate context?
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BLOGGER: Although I doubt that early talkers did much philosophizing, they wouldn't have survived if they hadn't already been a cooperative community able to use the input from an extra pair of eyes,

Ben Sano

Childhood, a period between weaning and the competence to live by your own efforts, seems to have been invented by Homo habilis. This seems to be the beginning of group trust. How did it happen and why?
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BLOGGER: It does look like the Homo genus was distinguished, from the get go, by cooperation. The enlarged brain, Oldowan tool kit, and sped up fertility rates all point to it. I've discussed Homo habilis on this point a few times. See: Symbolic Thinking Began 2 Million Years Ago, The Persistent Burden, Scylla and Charybdis.

J. Goard

An animal distancing its attention from the immediate context is just the beginning which might eventually lead to philosophizing. Early humans wouldn't have forced everybody around to look at the beautiful sunset? How about arguing for an hour over who threw a stone the farthest yesterday?

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