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The Missing Link in CognitionOrigins of self-reflective consciousness$
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Herbert S. Terrace and Janet Metcalfe

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195161564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161564.001.0001

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Emerging Levels of Consciousness in Early Human Development

Emerging Levels of Consciousness in Early Human Development

Chapter:
(p.116) 4 Emerging Levels of Consciousness in Early Human Development
Source:
The Missing Link in Cognition
Author(s):

Katherine Nelson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161564.003.0004

The chapter distinguishes between two types of intelligence in human and nonhuman primates. Psychology is the only life science that has yet to assimilate the theory of evolution. During the last thirty years, much evidence has accumulated that animals can perform complicated tasks that cannot be explained by the principles of conditioning and that do not rise to the level of language. The chapter concludes that the gap between animal and human intelligence is less mysterious once the significance of self-recognizing consciousness is viewed as a critical step in the evolution of human intelligence. It shows how natural selection can provide a plausible explanation of the necessary conditions for the origin of language. Since Descartes, language has been the main basis for distinguishing between human and nonhuman animals. However before language evolved, our ancestors had to develop nonverbal skills for reading another individual's mind.

Keywords:   psychology, principles of conditioning, animals, human intelligence, natural selection, origin of language, Descartes, language

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