Artifacts, Symbols, Thoughts

Kim Sterelny*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Until relatively recently, it was often supposed that changes in the material record of hominin life indexed advances in hominin cognitive sophistication in a relatively direct way. In particular, the “Upper Paleolithic Transition”—an apparently abrupt increase in the complexity and disparity of our material culture—was thought to signal the arrival of the fully human mind. While the idea of a direct relationship between material complexity and cognitive sophistication still has some defenders, this view has largely been abandoned. It is now widely appreciated that aspects of ancient hominins’ demographic and social organization have a powerful influence both on the material culture they need and the material culture they can sustain. But if this more nuanced view is right (and I shall defend it), what does the deep material record tell us about the evolution of hominin cognition? I explore that question in this article.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)236-247
    Number of pages12
    JournalBiological Theory
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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