What is the cognitive revolution and what are its consequences on the nature and development of human civilization/society?


If human beings are by nature social animals it means that our social tendencies are deeply rooted in various aspects of our biology, our common human nature. If our social nature is largley biological it means it has developed through the process of evolution by natural selection.  Our social nature is then an advantageous adaptation in the Darwinian “game” of survival and the life of the species at large.
The text we will read, Sapiens, describes key moments in the process of social formation and organization of the species as a result of evolution and the development of human civilization and history.

We will focus on those key element of our evolutionary nature which make us social in the peculiar way that we are. We have biological needs that are identical to other animals and like them, we are not self-sufficient. Nature gives us needs that we do not have the ability to satisfy under our own powers. This means we need help from others and these needs bring us together into community.

The key element which distinguishes human communities from those of other animals is our capacity to speak and to think. This is what Aristotle called “logos” or speech/reason. Our identities individually and collectively are shaped not only by a biological first nature, what what our first nature makes possible, culture. Culture is made possible by language, thought  and choice. Human life is lived not by genes alone passed down biologically, but through culture which is passed down as tradition only through experience, habit and education.

Language and the ideas it makes possible allow human beings to live a fundamentally different existence than other animals. Our special types of communities are not strictly based on biology or familial relationships like other animals, but on culture and ideas transmitted, and in some cases created, by language.
Language makes possible our special type of distinctly human community, which is both quantitatively and qualitatively different than other animals.
We live in, what the author of Sapiens calls, “an Imagined Order.”

We will look at some of the key moments in our evolution and historical development where human community became what it is.

What is the cognitive revolution and what are its consequences on the nature and development of human civilization/society?

What role does language play in the development of human community? There are two main functions of language, as descriptive of the world and as creative. Explain these two functions and explain who they create two different types of communities.

On p. 25 the author speaks of the “Legend of Peugeot.” What is this story about, what does it illustrate and how is it applicable to the formation of human community?

On p. 102 the author talks of an “imagined order” and at other times of “fictions” “mental constructs”, “myths” “legends”, even “legal constructs. What are these things in your own words? What role do they play in human society? Can we have human society without them?

Elements separate humans from other animals in terms of the size and nature of the communities we are able to form. How are our communities different?

What is the cognitive revolution and what are its consequences on the nature and development of human civilization/society?

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