This page will contain links to 12 chapters of a new book by Joseph Altman, entitled MENTAL EVOLUTION: Origins of the Human Body, Brain, Behavior, Consciousness, and Culture. The study of mental evolution began with Charles Darwin's 1872 publication "The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals" and was continued by Romanes in publications dated 1883 and 1888. However, there was a poor scientific understanding of human behavior and the mind in the late 19th century. Today, thanks to more than a century of rigorous psychological research on human behavior and the workings of the mind—and the added knowledge of paleontology, archeology, anthropology, and history—mental evolution is accepted today by most scientists.
The aim of this book is to reconstruct the evolutionary origins of the human body, brain, mind, and culture in terms of a series of “legacies.” That heritage began as protozoans emerged lacking differentiated sense organs and a nervous system but displaying goal-seeking behavior, as witnessed by their extant survivors. This we interpret as indirect evidence that protozoans are sentient beings. The emergence of sentience was followed by a long selection process that culminated, in the vertebrate line, in the evolution of monkeys and apes with large brains, manual dexterity, and indirect evidence of the emergence of tacit awareness. The next stage began with biped hominins who could use their freed hands to produce simple stone tools, and it culminated in the evolution of anatomically modern humans with greatly enlarged brains, elaborate tools, and a rich folk culture. Human mental evolution, from implicit awareness to reflective consciousness was, we will argue, language mediated, and it received a great boost when writing was invented and civilizations emerged. That led to a progressive growth in man’s practical and theoretical knowledge, and the human effort to understand what transpires in the external world. The book is divided into three parts, with 12 chapters. Part I is called Historical Background (chapter 1); Part II, The Animal Mind (chapters 2-8); and Part III, The Human Mind (chapters 9-12).
March 30, 2011: The Table of Contents, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2 put online.
June 2, 2011: Chapter 3 put online.
July 28, 2011: Chapter 4 put online.
September 8, 2011: Chapter 5 put online.
October 14, 2011: Chapter 6 put online.
January 27, 2012: Chapter 7 put online.
March 27, 2012: Chapter 8 put online and REVISED Table of Contents with all page numbers so far.
July 8, 2012: Chapter 9 put online.
February 8, 2013: Chapter 10 put online