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The Human Story download epub

by Robin Dunbar

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Robin Dunbar is currently Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University and a Fellow of Magdalen College.

Robin Dunbar is currently Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University and a Fellow of Magdalen College. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1998.

The Human Story book.

Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Robin Dunbar is currently Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University and a Fellow of Magdalen College.

For scientists studying evolution, the past decade has seen astonishing advances across many disciplines - discoveries which have revolutionised scientific thinking and turned upside down our understanding of who we are.

Robin Ian MacDonald Dunbar (born 28 June 1947) is a British anthropologist and evolutionary . Oxford: One World Books. London: Faber and Faber.

Robin Ian MacDonald Dunbar (born 28 June 1947) is a British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist and a specialist in primate behaviour. He is currently head of the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience.

By (author) Robin Dunbar.

The Human Story by Robin Dunbar and Publisher Faber & Faber. Save up to 80% by choosing the eTextbook option for ISBN: 9780571265206, 0571265200. The print version of this textbook is ISBN: 9780571223039, 0571223036. The Human Story by Robin Dunbar and Publisher Faber & Faber.

A wonderfully accessible, up-to-the-minute account of human evolution by 'one of the most respected evolutionary psychologists in Britain' (Guardian). Of the dozen or so hominid species once in existence, why are we the only one to have survived? What is it that sets us so firmly apart from all the other creatures with whom we share the planet? How and when did that separation come about?

Comments: (7)

Good information, terrible writing and repetitive words and phrases. Got a little annoying really but the information itself was interesting.
Easy reading of difficult subject. I enjoyed language, argument and explanations. Well illustrated methodology of scientific discovery and building working hypothesis. Author guides reader with grace through tricky and difficult path of scientific theories, even on the subject with limited resources and tradition. Very new and very convincing.
simply excellent
A fundamental book of the 21 st century. And fun too. I use it as reading material un a course about information security
This is a quick summary of human evolution, with special emphasis on Dunbar's research interests, but it has a serious problem. Even in a summary, I would expect Dunbar to occasionally present alternative views or at least indicate that they exist. He places much emphasis on the relationship between neo-cortex size and group size, and group size and the development of language, but there is no evidence that I am aware of that human groups, even 60,000 years ago, were nearly as large as 150 people. Dunbar places language development up to 500,000 years ago, which apparently has become the mainstream view (cf Derek Bickerton, "Adam's Tongue").

I also find it annoying that Dunbar seems so interested in creating sharp breaks between (non-human) animal consciousness and human consciousness. He devotes many pages to esoteric and unconvincing distinctions about what constitutes culture to further this goal, and of course makes no mention of animals other than primates who have culture, such as dolphins, and ravens (cf. Bearzi, Maddalena and Craig B. Stanford: Beautiful Minds and Heinrich, Bernd: Mind of the Raven). Nor does he mention chimpanzee facility with sign language, and the fact that young chimpanzees can learn it more quickly by being around other trained chimpanzees than from teaching by humans.

Having said all that, Dunbar has a nice breezy style, and slows down appropriately when dealing with difficult concepts.
According to Dunbar, our "Story" can only be told as a family record. Unless we better understand our relations we will never properly understand ourselves. His sweeping examination of various aspects of the living world shows us we have a special place, but not a unique one. Living creatures have many shared aspects of their lives. We need to study them more closely. The investigation, however, must be a more penetrating view than we've too often used in the past. The distinctions in behaviour in our nearest cousins in cages and in the wild are an indication of the needed effort. How much of our training chimpanzees is actually their manipulation of us? 'What is their intention compared to ours?' is a major theme.

Dunbar's writing is far from the pedant's academic style - further enlivened by some graphic examples and a few charts. Although most of this work is recounting research studies in field and laboratory, his descriptions of behaviour leave you feeling you've been watching with the observer. In setting each topic theme, he opens the chapter with a scenario from the past. One of our ancestors is participating in cave painting, preparing for the hunt or communing with spirits. These are events comprising the roots of our cultures.

The author shows how our construction of cultures resulted from a more complex [NOT "higher"] reasoning prowess. The complexity arises in our capacity to build and unravel "levels" of intentionality. From an individual's intention to act Dunbar takes us through the various levels to show how Shakespeare [to cite but one example] intended his audiences to comprehend the intentions of his various interacting characters. Although it is fairly common for humans to achieve five levels of intentionality, reaching the sixth is more than just a mental chore. Dunbar admits his attempt to surpass that grade ended in futility accompanied by an empty whisky bottle.

Even so, the fifth and sixth levels are what set us apart from our primate relations. This cognitive ability, coupled with our physiology, is what granted us speech - an unshared trait. Dunbar spends some time examining speech. The dispute over what constitutes "language" has been long and sometimes acrimonious. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't fully resolve the question, but provides sufficient detail to help the reader understand the issues. When, for example, do simple, silent gestures become a form of language? Dunbar has previously discussed the role of grooming in building communications abilities and expands on those ideas here.

As a concluding note, Dunbar examines the issue of religion - another aspect setting us apart from the other animals. Events, communicated to others, often leads to questioning cause. When the cause of an event cannot be identified, it becomes attributed to the supernatural and religion is born. So long as enough people communicate a common cause for events, religion becomes a cohesion factor in society - both informing and controlling one's neighbours. This alone requires careful understanding and manipulation of the orders of intentionality. Do we truly need religion in order to have a feeling of belonging in our community? This is but one of the challenging questions Dunbar poses. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
Robin Dunbar is a professor of evolutionary psychology perhaps best known for Dunbar's Number (150) being the suggested upper limit of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships. Sadly some of us never get to put this figure to the test.
The Human Story is his account of humankind's evolution. Each chapter beings with a brief sketch of an imaged event in the life of an ancestor, e.g. a cave painter, the australopithecines who left the Laetoli footprints etc followed by a chapter dealing with aspects of our evolution e.g. bipedalism, language, levels of intentionality (Shakespeare intended that we realize that Othello believed Iago when he lied about Desdemona being in love with Cassio), the origins of religion etc.
I found the work well written and accessible to the layman and his arguments largely convincing but perhaps an other expert would have a different analysis. As a layman one is relying on the expert's factual accuracy and I did spot one elementary error. On page 175 Ali is described as Mohammed's son. I would have thought that someone in the proofreading process would have known that Ali was Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law.
Sometimes an author has to write something that will offend readers but I do think he should be careful not to be carelessly hurtful. On page 94 we are described as beginning "as little more than a wet lump" and on page 97 we are told "the human infant...is pretty much an inert lump". Some people who will have read this book will have suffered a miscarriage and/or lost a baby. I doubt they thought of their loss as a lump.Surely some more thoughtful language could have been used?
The Human Story download epub
Author: Robin Dunbar
ISBN: 0571223036
Category: Politics & Social Sciences
Subcategory: Anthropology
Language: English
Publisher: Gardners Books (April 30, 2005)
Pages: 224 pages