The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Human Brain

  • Title: The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Human Brain
  • Author: Terrence W. Deacon
  • ISBN: 9780713991888
  • Page: 413
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Symbolic Species The Co evolution of Language and the Human Brain This revolutionary book provides fresh answers to long standing questions of human origins and consciousness Drawing on his breakthrough research in comparative neuroscience Terrence Deacon offers a
    This revolutionary book provides fresh answers to long standing questions of human origins and consciousness Drawing on his breakthrough research in comparative neuroscience, Terrence Deacon offers a wealth of insights into the significance of symbolic thinking from the co evolutionary exchange between language and brains over two million years of hominid evolution to thThis revolutionary book provides fresh answers to long standing questions of human origins and consciousness Drawing on his breakthrough research in comparative neuroscience, Terrence Deacon offers a wealth of insights into the significance of symbolic thinking from the co evolutionary exchange between language and brains over two million years of hominid evolution to the ethical repercussions that followed man s newfound access to other people s thoughts and emotions.Informing these insights is a new understanding of how Darwinian processes underlie the brain s development and function as well as its evolution In contrast to much contemporary neuroscience that treats the brain as no or less than a computer, Deacon provides a new clarity of vision into the mechanism of mind It injects a renewed sense of adventure into the experience of being human.

    • [PDF] Download ô The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Human Brain | by ✓ Terrence W. Deacon
      413 Terrence W. Deacon
    • thumbnail Title: [PDF] Download ô The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Human Brain | by ✓ Terrence W. Deacon
      Posted by:Terrence W. Deacon
      Published :2019-07-03T05:32:52+00:00

    About Terrence W. Deacon


    1. Terrence W Deacon is a professor of biological anthropology and neuroscience and the chair of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley The author of The Symbolic Species, he lives near Berkeley, California.


    653 Comments


    1. Well, this took me a long time to read. Partly it was due to the ideas themselves; a lot of passages need to be re-read to really understand the point Deacon is trying to make, as a lot of what he talks about is just fundamentally hard to grasp. I think it was also partly due to Deacon himself; his prose can get pretty wordy and, in some portions, he's detailed almost to a fault.To really a review this book properly I feel like a person would need to write a lengthy essay, but I don't feel like [...]

      Reply

    2. The subtitle is a huge hint here - language and the brain evolved together. Partly, humans have a weird brain that allows us to have symbolic language, which is largely unattainable by other species. But also partly, the language we have is suited to our peculiar brains. Deacon's understanding of evolution allows him to see through the hysteria of how we could have possibly evolved such a universal grammar module and perceive what seems, in retrospect, obvious: what human languages have in commo [...]

      Reply

    3. While Deacon often appears to take a self-aggrandizing attitude toward his own work and may use some questionable examples to support his theories (it is a pop science book, after all), The Symbolic Species is a great discussion starter regarding language evolution. I did walk away from this book thinking that very little of it actually offered evidence for HOW language and the brain co-evolved, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. While I am no disciple of Chomsky, Deacon does seem to gloss over the p [...]

      Reply

    4. This is a very badly written book with excellent ideas - Nassim Nicholas Taleb's ideas with Ayn Rand's writing skills.It can take almost infinite time to read, I haven't finished it yet, it is not even enjoyable most of the times. But then, every 50-80 pages or so, an idea would strike me hard and I would just close the book and think about what I have understood, perhaps reread the previous portions to make sense of what I understood. In a sense, that the book is badly written is an advantage t [...]

      Reply

    5. I couldn't understand this book at all, but was dutifully attempting to plough through it when a visiting friend noticed it on my shelf. "That's just the worst book ever written!" he said. "My mother-in-law knows him. He's an idiot." Possibly there was an adjective before "idiot". At any rate, I decided I didn't need to read any more, though I'm afraid it's still on my shelf. I can't quite say why. Lack of decisiveness, I suppose.

      Reply

    6. In answer to central questions such as "What makes humans different?", "Is it brain size that gives humans speech?", "How did consciousness and language evolve in humans?", and "What is consciousness?", Deacon provides an elegant solution. We are a symbolic species. Language, and as a consequence consciousness, are made possible by the use of an ability to process symbols. I will try to explain how the symbolic process works, why it is important, how it evolved, and what effect it has on conscio [...]

      Reply

    7. This is a great book that can get a little dense and technical at times. The main premise of the text is that what really separates humans from animals and other forms of life is language. Humans use language symbolically as opposed to indexically. The explanation for what this means was one of the hardest parts of the book to get. What it boils down to is that animals, particularly smart animals like chimps and dogs, can map words to specific meanings but they cannot do things like string words [...]

      Reply

    8. Deacon's book is over a decade old but holds up well. His analysis of the forces that led to the characteristic brain structure of humans is not unique, although this was one of the first publications to pull the evidence together in a coherent account over time. His primary contribution is the careful argument for the *co*-evolution of brain structures with language, and for the way in which symbolic thinking and ritual preceeded and fostered language capability. Deacon's insights have found st [...]

      Reply

    9. A brain-melter of a book. Fascinating and brilliant and dense. Written clearly but at great length and depth. Suggests language shaped the human brain as much as the brain shaped language, and shows just how that was accomplished, and why there's no such thing as 'simple' languages in other animals. It's all about the hurdle of symbolic thought and communication. My brain feels like it was re-shaped just to take it all in.

      Reply

    10. Fascinating topic. The text was hard to get through. It didn't read like a book written for a wider audience and the author had a tendency to wax philosophical and meander on tangents around the point. I thoroughly enjoyed the tangents, but I feel they could have been organized more thoughtfully. It felt like the written equivalent of listening to a professor who likes to hear himself talk.

      Reply

    11. Brilliant!! Another incredibly useful paradigm shift! I just wish most of the technical research had been moved to the Notes section. But regardless, I think the quality of the ideas was worth the extra effort.

      Reply

    12. I'll paste a review I once wrote in a blog, sorry it's in Hebrew. הספר מתבסס על מחקרים רבים שנעשו בנושאי חקר השפה וחקר המוח, ומציע באומץ הסברים חדשניים ופשוטים לתופעות שלא על כולן יש היום קונצנזוס מדעי. הוא מעניין וכתוב בשפה קולחת. הביקורת היחידה שלי בינתיים היא שלעתים המחבר מורח טענה על יותר מדי עמודים [...]

      Reply

    13. This impressive book by an imminently qualified brain specialist, who also displays a firm grasp of language acquisition mechanisms and associated disorders, is structured in three parts, each having 4-6 chapters (see the table of contents at the end of this review). At 525 pages, each packed with information, it isn’t an easy read but persevering pays out handsomely at the end. One appealing feature of the book is its many helpful diagrams and charts.Deacon begins Chapter 1 with this wonderfu [...]

      Reply

    14. Terrence W. Deacon presents a reasonable, but not conclusive case for the co-evolution of the brain and language. The way he describes it, they kind of feedback on each other. He is against the Chomskian theory of there being a dedicated innate brain structure for a universal grammer wich all languages are thought to share in this theory. Having agrued against Chomsky and others, he does not deny that children have a special ability to learn language. He believes that languages use children to e [...]

      Reply

    15. Some really good bits about brain development, brain evolution in mammals and humans, language and symbol use among trained animals, and ritual as the incubator for speech. Unfortunately, it's hard going, and you have to really care (and maybe skim parts) to get through it. Also, when an anthropologists says that a capacity did not evolve and could not have evolved, you have to take those conclusions with a grain of salt.

      Reply

    16. Great book. Pretty technical in places, not always correct or necessarily compelling, but this is a great book that helps to frame important questions around language and the brain. Stretches a bit, unsuccessfully I think, in the last chapter or two, but overall fascinating and important. I'm excited to start his sequel, which I bought as well.

      Reply

    17. Fascinating exploration about the unique nature of symbolic thought and the distinction between cognition in humans and other primates. Ultimately, the hypothesis is that language evolved late as a result of the unique social forms developed by humans (including pair-bonding within a larger social grouping) rather than being the cause of symbolic thought development.

      Reply

    18. This is a great book, which explains how complexity arises from simple structures, in addition to the co-evolution of language and the brain. It is extremely interesting to learn how we are uniquely adapted to learn language from an early age. I highly recommend it!

      Reply

    19. Writer's Block? This book offers solutions and practical exercises to open up your mind in order to recall, reflect upon and create images and characters and to transfer them to your computer or notebook. Great book for authors.

      Reply

    20. This book has good information, but is VERY wordy and could have used a good editor.

      Reply

    21. A fascinating and challenging book about human uniqueness. I can't believe I read the whole thing. Proper review to follow.

      Reply

    22. So far excellent

      Reply

    23. Working my way through: this is not a fast read but needs to be digested a chapter at a time.

      Reply

    24. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Human Brain (Penguin Press Science) by Terrence Deacon (1998)

      Reply

    25. Great Book! Lots of interesting and useful information

      Reply

    26. Its been a while since I read this book, but of the host of books at the time on the evolution of mind and brain I thought this was pretty clearly the top of the heap.

      Reply

    27. Tremendous insight into language and how it not only made humans what we are, but also what makes us so different from conceivably every other living thing.

      Reply

    28. Maybe the best book on the subject so far.

      Reply

    29. Good polemic on how humanity is unique: distinguishing language from communication; a common confusion with Dr Doolittle academics

      Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *