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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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V. Life's Corporeal Evolution Encodes and Organizes Itself: An EarthWinian Genesis Synthesis

G. Universal Gestation: Phylogeny and Ontogeny

Longuet-Higgins, Christopher. Issues in Mental Development. Paul Mellars and Kathleen Gibson, eds. Modelling the Early Human Mind. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 1996. A correspondence between individual and species cognitive advancement.

A second look at the relation between the ontogeny and the phylogeny of mind seems to show, not only that one copies the other even more closely than could have been expected, but that their resemblance can be given a plausible genetic interpretation: the most novel characters of a species will tend to emerge late in an individual’s development, for essentially logistic reasons. (156)

Lyn, Heidi, Patricia Greenfield, and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh. The Development of Representational Play in Chimpanzees and Bonobos. Cognitive Development. 21/3, 2006. A journal published by the Jean Piaget Society. Pretense or pretend behavior occurs amongst our closest ancestors, chimpanzees and bonobos of the genus Pan, in similar ways to children. Since the original work of the Swiss psychologist found parallels between human and evolutionary development, this comparison remains a tacit theme. Although anathema to the mainstream, which the authors duly state, their research indeed finds evidence for this correspondence.

MacNeilage, Peter. The Origin of Speech. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. The University of Texas at Austin psychologist and linguist articulates the deep evolutionary roots and routes of our human ability to cogitate, vocalize, and socially communicate. In so doing, salient aspects such as the interplay of essentialist and constructivist aspects, namely Noam Chomsky and Jean Piaget, along with self-organizational dynamics and neoDarwinian selection, are engaged. These native and contingent influences are seen to firstly evoke holistic, contextual ‘frames’ of simian gestures or grunts, which later evolved into specific, consonant/vowel ‘content.’ A section goes on to explore how these phases accord with complementary right and left brain hemispheres. With this in place, MacNeilage makes a strong case that our hominid ancestors and each infant child necessarily pass through the same, parallel stages as they learn to sign and speak.

This is how modern speech works in real time, and it can be characterized by a “frame/content” metaphor: segmental “content” elements are placed into syllable-structure “frames.” Explaining this frame/content mode of modern speech organization in terms of its ultimate causes is my main purpose in this book. (57) My basic thesis here is that in both evolution and development, frames come first and content later. (58)

The main proposition I will now make is that the ontogeny of speech recapitulates its phylogeny- that is, its development retraces, at least to some degree, the steps of its evolution. (105) My claim is quite specific: every human infant recapitulates the two stages I have proposed for the evolution of speech – the frame stage, then the frame/content stage. (106)

MacWhinney, Brian. Language Evolution and Human Development. Ellis, Bruce and David Bjorklund, eds. Origins of the Social Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and Child Development. New York: Guilford Press, 2005. Although not exactly parallel, the course of encephalization and proto-babbling and utterances are generally found to be in accord.

In this area, one theory that immediately suggests itself is the idea that language ontogeny in the child recapitulates language phylogeny in the species. In some regards, this may well be the case. (400-401)

Martindale, Mark and Billie Swalla. Introduction to the Symposium: The Evolution of Development Patterns and Process. American Zoologist. 38/4, 1998. Interdisciplinary reports on how embryology informs evolution. Prokaryotic symbionts are seen to aid organisms through a “détente” similar to that between nations.

Mashour, George and Michael Alkire. Evolution of Consciousness: Phylogeny, Ontogeny, and Emergence from General Anesthesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110/Supple. 2, 2013. Reviewed more in Brain Anatomy and Cognizance, in this edition “In the Light of Evolution VII: The Human Mental Machinery,” University of Michigan Medical School, and University of California, Irvine, neurophysicians achieve a unified synthesis of these personal and planetary time spans.

Mayr, Ernst. Recapitulation Revisited: The Somatic Program. Quarterly Review of Biology. 69/2, 1994. A renowned founder of the modern Neo-Darwinian synthesis makes the strong claim that recapitulation indeed occurs and can now be understood in a mature biology. (See also Mayr’s book: This Is Biology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.)

As (Stephen Jay) Gould has pointed out so rightly, recapitulation, properly understood, is simply a fact that cannot be eliminated by attacks on it. (230)

McKinney, Michael. The Juvenilized Ape Myth - Our “Overdeveloped” Brain. BioScience. 48/2, 1998. A child’s mental development repeats the acquisition of cerebral capacity by early humans, which is seen to fulfill the original convictions of both Darwin and Freud.

McNeill, David. Why We Gesture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. We cite this work by the University of Chicago emeritus psychologist for its notice of how vital hand movements are to communications, and in this regard that their evolutionary phylogenesis and a child’s individual ontogenesis do indeed recapitulate each other. From our vantage, gesturing likely predated literal speech, “acquisition” phases which we all went through, toward a lucid unity, which evokes a “self-aware agency” (154).

Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. With Alison Wray’s theory that speech, whether musical or literal, first arose via gestalt utterances without grammar as a guide, the book is an insightful imagination of how song, broadly conceived, was the prime medium by which early humans communicated. This Neanderthal discourse for mating, hunting and social cohesion was “Hmmmm” in kind: holistic, manipulative, multi-modal, musical, and mimetic. As explained in a prior work (1996), their ‘domain-specific’ modular brain was suited for these abilities, and then succeeded by a generalist “cognitive fluidity” which joined the modules. In a conclusion, Mithen reiterates his belief in a parallel between this Neanderthal exemplar and the way human infants proceed from holistic babbles and melodies to childhood speech abilities.

Nelson, Katherine. Emerging Levels of Consciousness in Early Human Development. Terrace, Herbert and Janet Metcalfe, eds. The Missing Link in Cognition: Origins of Self-Reflective Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Autonoesis, the onset of self-knowing consciousness in infants and children, is said to arise by six stages – physical (the postnatal world), social, cognitive, representational (2-4 years), narrative, and cultural. The tacit assumption is that the human species phylogenetically passed through the same sequence, which is retraced by each ontogeny.

Nelson, Katherine. The Human Nature of the Economic Mind. Biological Theory. Online July, 2012. Whence “economic” broadly means social and cultural. The emeritus CCNY child psychologist continues her preference, as many other scholars, for Merlin Donald’s episodic cognitive sequence from primate to populace, as it increasingly forms an external repository. Presently, this constitutes a “hybrid mind” of composite human and humankind interactivity. As further credence for this model, Nelson finds it to be similarly retraced by a child’s education and enculturation process, so as to reveal a distinctive recapitulation.

This paper provides a historical overview of cognitive psychology and computational theories in cognitive science. Critiques of the computational model are discussed. The perspective of the evolution of mind and brain provides an alternative model such as that presented by Merlin Donald in terms of the “Hybrid Mind.” This “naturalist” model is also consistent with what we know of cognitive development in childhood. It provides a better understanding of cognition in situated context than the computational alternatives and is a better fit as a model of mind for the social sciences, including for economic decision making. (Abstract)

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