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Thought in a hostile world : the evolution of human cognition / Kim Sterelny.

Sterelny, Kim.
  • Books

About this work


"Thought in a Hostile World is an exploration of the evolution of cognition, especially human cognition, by one of today's foremost philosophers of biology and of mind." "The central idea of the book is that thought is a response to threat. Competitors and enemies make life hard by their direct physical effects. But they also make life hard by eroding epistemic conditions. They lie. They hide themselves. They seem other than what they are." "Sterelny uses this and related ideas to explore from an evolutionary perspective the relationship between folk psychology and an integrated scientific conception of human cognition. In the process, he examines how and why human minds have evolved. The book argues that humans are cognitively, socially, and sexually very unlike the other great apes, and that despite our relatively recent separation from their lineages, human social and cognitive evolution has been driven by unusual evolutionary mechanisms. In developing his own picture of the descent of the human mind, Sterelny further offers a critique of nativist, modular versions of evolutionary psychology." "This volume will be of interest to scholars and students interested in cognitive science, philosophy of mind, and evolutionary psychology."--BOOK JACKET.


Malden, MA ; Oxford : Blackwell, 2003.

Physical description

xi, 262 pages ; 24 cm



Copy 1. Donor: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.


Assembling Intentionality -- Evolutionary Naturalism -- Two Projects of Evolutionary Naturalism -- The Simple Coordination Thesis -- Detection Systems -- The Environmental Complexity Hypothesis -- Detection Systems -- The Power of Detection Systems -- Transparent and Translucent Worlds -- Robust Tracking Systems -- Fuels for Success -- Decoupled Representation -- Response Breadth -- Fuels for Success: Space -- Fuels for Success: Intervention in the Material World -- Reprise -- Fuels for Success: The Social Intelligence Hypothesis -- The Cognitive Demands Of Social Life -- The Social Intelligence Hypothesis -- The Cognitive World Of The Great Apes: Imitation -- The Cognitive World of Great Apes: Tracking Other Minds -- The Descent of Preference -- Internal Environments -- The Forager's Dilemma -- Preference Eliminativism? -- Preference-like States -- Not Just Another Species of Large Mammal -- Reconstructing Hominid Evolution -- Testing Theories of Human Evolution -- From Cognitive Device to Evolutionary History -- Making Progress -- An Example: Tomasello's Conjecture -- The Cooperation Explosion -- The Cooperative Primate -- Group Selection and Human Cooperation -- The Ecological Trigger of Hominid Cooperation -- Coalition and Enforcement -- Commitment to Enforcement -- Upshot -- The Self-made Species -- Ecological Engineers -- Cumulative Niche Construction: The Cognitive Condition -- Cumulative Niche Construction: The Social Condition -- Hominid Epistemic Engineering -- Downstream Epistemic Engineering.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-257) and index.


  • English

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  • 063118886X
  • 9780631188865
  • 0631188878
  • 9780631188872