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Technology made us understand abstract causality

Gärdenfors, Peter and Lombard, Marlize (2020) Technology made us understand abstract causality. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Many animal species use tools, but human technical engagement is more complex. We argue that there is coevolution between technical engagement (the manufacturing and use of tools) and advanced forms of causal cognition in the human (Homo) lineage. As an analytic tool, we present a classification of different forms of causal thinking. Human causal thinking has become detached from space and time, so that instead of just reacting to perceptual input, our minds can simulate actions and forces and their causal consequences. Our main thesis is that, unlike the situation for other primate species, an increasing emphasis on technical engagement made some hominins capable of reasoning about the forces involved in causal processes. This thesis is supported in three ways: (1) We compare the casual thinking about forces of hominins with that of other primates. (2) We analyze the causal thinking required for Stone Age hunting technologies such as throwing spears, bow hunting and the use of poisoned arrows, arguing that they may serve as examples of the expansion of casual cognition about forces. (3) We present neurophysiological results that indicate the facilitation of advanced causal thinking.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Gärdenfors, PeterPeter.Gardenfors@lucs.lu.se0000-0001-7423-828X
Lombard, Marlizemlombard@uj.ac.za
Additional Information: To appear in Biology and Philosophy
Keywords: Causal cognition, tool use, hominids, forces
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Archaeology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Depositing User: Professor Peter Gärdenfors
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2020 01:46
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2020 01:46
Item ID: 17363
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Archaeology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Date: June 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17363

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