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The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition
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A much needed book that covers a broad territory with both clarity and authority. Having spent much of his career comparing human and nonhuman primate cognition, Michael Tomasello makes the case for a social developmental foundation of the unique capacities of the human primate--language, complex cognition, and culture. His ontogenetic 'ratchet hypothesis' is both simple and provocative. It will be welcomed--and argued about--by a wide audience. -- Katherine Nelson, Distinguished Professor of Developmental Psychology, City University of New York Tomasello is one of the very few scholars who works at the intersection of the phylogenetic, cultural-historical, and ontogenetic contributions to development. His studies linking non-human primate development to the development of human infants are exciting and compelling. He has done the study of human development a great service with the publication of this book. -- Michael Cole, Professor of Communication and Psychology and Director of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, University of California at San Diego A powerful and coherent synthesis, and the best formulation of cultural psychology we've yet had. -- Jerome Bruner, New York University

Table of Contents

1. A Puzzle and a Hypothesis 2. Biological and Cultural Inheritance 3. Joint Attention and Cultural Learning 4. Linguistic Communication and Symbolic Representation 5. Linguistic Constructions and Event Cognition 6. Discourse and Representational Redescription 7. Cultural Cognition References Index

About the Author

Michael Tomasello is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. From 1998 to 2018 he was Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and in 2017 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His scientific work has been recognized by institutions around the world, including the Guggenheim Foundation, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Netherlands, and the German National Academy of Sciences.

Reviews

Students of primate behavior are one of several groups who should read this important book. It spells out forcefully what appears to make human development so distinctive, and does so from the perspective of an expert in language acquisition who has also devoted much time to comparative work with apes. It is strong medicine for anybody in danger of romanticizing the similarity of ape to child. Developmental psychologists will find here a well-articulated account of the ontogeny of cultural learning, which challenges alternative accounts from the vantage point of extensive research. -- Andrew Whiten Nature "In The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition...[Tomasello] argues that what makes human beings unique is that they are so good at learning from one another and that they create new, original things with what they learn." -- Helen Epstein Lingua Franca

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