Two decades of Research in Primate Communication and Culture: A Selective Review

Semioticians’ interests in non-verbal communication underlie their interest in primates. Most of the family Hominidae, and humans for much of their evolutionary time, have not been the highly verbal beings we are now. It is the focus of these lectures to argue that it is the development of human society than pushed us from highly social, interactive, but non-verbal beings into what we are today. It is not just a long slow evolutionary pilgrimage building on a foundation of genetically-based hard wiring, but the neuromuscular, cognitive, developmental interaction fostered by our intensely stimulated and complex social lives that have allowed us to develop our incredible communication system. Have you ever considered that if we share 98.point something of a chimpanzee’s DNA, how much more we share with Australopithecus who only separated from our line half as long ago?

Cultural Evolution: Mind-Culture Co-Evolution

This is a course in the evolution of human culture from its origins up to the present. The emphasis will be on what happens in the mind, because that is the locus of culture. The course presupposes a general knowledge of human history and culture and a relatively high level of sophistication in thinking about such topics. Lecture material will consist of various articles and book chapters written either individually or jointly by me and the late David G. Hays.