to the editor
The ASCAP Newsletter Vol.9, No.12 dec. 1996
Evolutionary Psychology serious
as a dedicated reader of the ASCAP- Newsletter the use of notions
like "origins of such and such behavior" seems increasingly
shortsighted to me. Let me try to explain this uneasiness:
evolutionary psychology serious, we must not stop with Paleolithic
hunter-gatherers as our ancestors. Evolution concerns transition
of species, yielding the new by changing the old. Surely arboricol
primates anteceded hominids, surely tetrapodal mammals anteceded
them. If we go further back, to the origin of the vertebrate/chordate
phylum, we can take a kind of fish as an very early ancestors prototype.
Let us suggest: Their life, their behavior shaped our brain organization
more than all subsequent changes altogether did.
Surely fish relied an others to keep their life (and line) going.
They were mobile, heterotrophic (feeding an others) and sexually
active (choosing partners). It is not sure whether they were prey
for other animals, but since mammalian times our line was threatened
by predators for long periods. Cave-bears and sable-toothed tigers
did not substantially change the hominid brain after such a long
history of fighting for life.
In short: If Paleozoic fish behaved roughly as we might conceive
of a recent standard fish; the first categorization of essential
objects for them must have been: prey, predator, partner, competitors
(same sex, same species, other species) and all sorts of neutral
animals. As all these "objects" were themselves mobile,
their discrimination by means of specific movement patterns were
the first action tasks for the vertebrate nervous system. Inanimate
objects did not matter much, because motion by physical causes is
less complex compared to behavior.
In other words:
Vertebrates are natural observers,
Vertebrate brains evolved
in interaction with other brains, or
A vertebrate brain needs another
brain to show its basic functions, or
A vertebrate brain cannot be
explained alone, or