Chapter

Super Natural Science: The Claims of Evolutionary Psychology

Barbara Herrnstein Smith

in Scandalous Knowledge

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620234
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671670 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620234.003.0006
Super Natural Science: The Claims of Evolutionary Psychology

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Chapter Six is a critical examination of the aims, claims and methods of evolutionary psychology as articulated by its major proponents, John Tooby, Leda Cosmides and Steven Pinker. The chapter indicates the loose, shifting or incoherent notion of “mind” in the field's central formulations, the dubiousness of its key assumptions about mind/brain modularity and both the genetically transmitted character and universality of various human traits, the theoretical circularity involved in its defining method of “reverse engineering,” its arbitrarily limited, strictly mentalistic view of human culture--and, especially, of the dynamics of cultural transmission--and, finally, its historically distorted and otherwise tendentious account of its own intellectual-scientific status and achievements compared to those of alternative and rival accounts of human behavior, culture and cognition, both earlier and current.

Keywords: evolutionary psychology; mind; human behavior; culture; cognition; cultural transmission; reverse engineering

Chapter.  9479 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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