Cognitive Adaptation: A Pragmatist Perspective argues that there is a fundamental link between cognitive/neural systems and evolution that underlies human activity. One important result is that the line between nature and culture and scientific and humanistic inquiry is quite permeable - the two are fairly continuous with each other. Two concepts figure importantly in our human ascent: agency and animacy. The first is the recognition of another person as having beliefs, desires, and a sense of experience. The second term is the recognition of an object as alive, a piece of biology. Both reflect a predilection in our cognitive architecture that is fundamental to an evolving, but fragile, sense of humanity. The book further argues for a regulative norm of self-corrective inquiry, an appreciation of the hypothetical nature of all knowledge. Schulkin's perspective is rooted in contemporary behavioral and cognitive neuroscience.
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As humans, we come prepared to recognize two fundamental features of our surroundings: animate objects and agents. This recognition begins early in development and pervades our ecological and social space. This predilection reveals an important adaptation and sets the conditions for shared experiences between people. Our cultural evolution is knotted to an expanding sense of shared experiences.About the Author:
Jay Schulkin is Research Professor for the Departments of Physiology and Biophysics and Neuroscience at Georgetown University. He is author of numerous texts, including The Neuroendocrine Regulation of Behavior, Roots of Social Sensibility and Neural Function, Bodily Sensibility: Intelligent Action and Allostasis, Homeostasis, and the Costs of Physiological Adaptation.
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