Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Descent of MindPsychological Perspectives on Hominid Evolution$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Michael Corballis and Stephen E. G. Lea

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780192632593

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192632593.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 31 March 2020

Are humans special? A history of psychological perspectives

Are humans special? A history of psychological perspectives

(p.1) 1 Are humans special? A history of psychological perspectives
The Descent of Mind

Michael C. Corballis

Stephen E. G. Lea

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the history of psychological attitudes toward the question of continuity versus discontinuity between humans and other species. The freedom of action enjoyed by humans implied some non-material influence that could never be captured by mechanical principles. René Descartes was especially impressed with the unbounded nature of language, enjoyed even by human imbeciles, but apparently unattainable by non-human animals. The comfortable idea that humans are mentally and morally superior to other animals was rudely shaken with Charles Darwin's books The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection and The Expression of the Emotion in Man and Animals, where he made the explicit suggestion that humans descended from African apes. This implies a basic continuity between humans and other species, an idea that was opposed from the outset by the established church, and is still at the centre of debate and controversy.

Keywords:   psychological attitudes, freedom of action, humans, René Descartes, language, Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, African apes, church

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .