IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Recent and Selected.
Art and Adaptability: Consciousness and Cognitive Culture (Brill 2018) argues for a co-evolution of theory of mind and material/art culture. Mental mind reading is part of our human evolution and involved in the arts. The book covers relevant areas from great ape intelligence, hominin evolution, Stone Age tools, Paleolithic culture and art forms, to neurobiology. We use material and art objects, whether painting or sculpture, to modify our own and other people’s thoughts so as to affect behavior. We don’t just make judgments about mental states; we create objects about which we make judgments in which mental states are inherent. Moreover, we make judgments about these objects to facilitate how we explore the minds and feelings of others. The argument is that it’s not so much art because of theory of mind but art as theory of mind. The tool does not think; the maker thinks before fashioning the tool, and then the observant group thinks as the tool is used. In other words, according to my argument, theory of mind itself could be the proximate mechanism for the ultimate function of culture.
Art and Adaptation: A Primer from Notes – out of print. (Bibliotekos, 2015). This book presents a comprehensive survey and discussion of the dominant ideas by leading thinkers on why we make art. The book merited a brief review in the December 2015 issue of Art in America. Approaches that examine the evolution of art behavior embrace natural selection, sexual selection, social selection, and cognition. The work is not a monograph, strictly speaking. Rather, the purpose is to present in a readable format different views concerning how material culture and art behavior are adaptive. However, that being said such a stance is argumentative and will generate disagreement. Update: I am working on a much expanded and revised version of the book.
Evolution and Human Culture: Texts and Contexts. (Brill, Value Inquiry Book Series/Cognitive Science, 2016.) Evolution and Human Culture argues that values, beliefs, and practices are expressions of individual and shared moral sentiments. Much of our cultural production stems from what in early hominins was a caring tendency, both the care to share and a self-care to challenge others. Topics cover prehistory, mind, biology, morality, comparative primatology, art, and aesthetics. The take-home point is that culture does not transcend nature; rather, culture is an evolved moral behavior.
Making Mind: Moral Sense and Consciousness in Philosophy, Science, and Literature. (Rodopi, Consciousness and the Arts Series, 2014). Making Mind is essentially a study of the adaptive nature of the individual moral sense as manifested in narrative. Literature (culture) is treated as a product of evolution, since the thrust of the argument comes from the perspective of evolutionary studies. More than addressing the origin of story, the book examines and explains the evolution of narrative.
For more information on my other monographs, edited academic collections, and additional publications please visit me here.
For details about edited, themed, literary anthologies (prose and poetry from writers across the world) visit http://www.ebibliotekos.com
The ASEBL Journal, an online, peer-reviewed publication, can be accessed here.
More information about The Evolutionary Studies Collaborative is here.