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The Rise of Homo Sapiens: The Evolution of Modern Thinking Hardcover – 3 Apr 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (3 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405152532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405152532
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.5 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,800,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"In this well–structured book, a useful introduction lays out the main points of the volume, followed by three chapters devoted to the biological, neurological, and evolutionary aspects of the human brain . . . regardless of this difference of opinions, for those who missed the series of papers published by the two authors over the last decade, this book is a good way to catch up and to ponder some influential ideas in the research on modern humans." (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2011) "Coolidge and Wynn offer many useful insights into hominid cognition and provide a framework for model building and testing that can generate unequivocal results. The real contribution of The Rise of Homo sapiens, then, is not in its conclusions, but in its methodological commitments." ( Journal of Anthropological Research , 2010)"The book presents some intriguing ideas and offers alternative support for those who see a recent origin for modern human behaviour." ( South African Archaeological Bulletin , 2010) “Coolidge and Wynn have written a clear, well–researched book that provides a strongly reasoned theoretical argument.” ( PsycCRITIQUES , 2009) “This volume will be of considerable interest to anyone working in the cognitive sciences, notably anthropologists, archaeologists, and neuropsychologists.” ( CHOICE , October 2009)


"Thirty years ago, archaeologist Tom Wynn pioneered modern attempts to unravel the evolution of cognition by looking at the archaeology of our ancestors in the light of psychological theory.  Now he joins with psychologist Fred Coolidge to tackle the problem from both sides of the question.  As with other combined attempts, the authors found that they both learned a lot about their own disciplines from working with the other.  This resulting book is a delight and a constant source of insights.  Readers will learn about their own ways thinking, why it is as it is, and how it came to be that way.  This is a tale, both for the public and for professionals in many disciplines, told with wit and authority." – Iain Davidson , Harvard University and University of New England "Scientific and humanistic disciplines use different approaches and different perspectives. Their combination is delicate, and necessary. Here we have an incredibly effective and successful example of the potentialities of such integration" – Emiliano Bruner , Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) "A thoughtful account of human evolution, focused on how a biological change in cognition could explain the emergence of modern humans in Africa and their subsequent expansion to Eurasia." – Richard Klein , Stanford University

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By sp klv on 23 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting. More data is required though to support the authors' thesis.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Informative and readable 10 Feb. 2010
By Paul Haney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
At last some hints at answers to those human questions: How and, even more interesting, Why did we get to this place in our mental development.

The authors present a very readable, straightforward explanation of hominoid evolution including some very humorous cartoons and asides. The inevitable professional jargon is softened by repeated explanations and a comprehensive glossary. The readability of this material is no small feat due to the complex, interactive nature of the various development trends and the forces driving them. The interpretation of the archeological data by itself is extremely impressive. For example: finding piles of flakes resulting from knapping stone tools and reassembling the flakes to figure out the knapping sequences. They learned a lot by comparing how knapping techniques changed over the last 400,000 years and thinking about the minds required to produce and use those tools.

They describe a development path started by a change from sleeping in trees to sleeping on the ground and include some explanations of sleep characteristics we retain from our tree sleeping times. Some food vs. anatomy trade-offs explain how humans developed bigger brains without being burdened by a much longer digestive tract.

Despite being very conservative with their theories we get a believable story of a very recent (30,000 years ago) change that enhanced our brain's working memory and enabled an executive function that allows us to appreciated what's going on in the mind of another human and make complicated plans for things that haven't happened yet.

Learning about this recent change in our brains, knowing that humans began to domesticate plants and animals just a few thousand years ago and then looking at where we are today makes me wonder about the effect of current evolutionary pressures and where the next little change might take us.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Why are humans so smart? 11 July 2012
By Dan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to know why the human species has evolved in the way it has. This book doesn't fully answer that because it depends upon physical artifacts that have been discovered. There isn't any way now to know what our ancestors were thinking. But this book is excellent in showing how we did become smarter in creating those artifacts. It reads very much like a CSI investigation. And it has a surprise ending. It seems that 28,000 years ago one of our ancestors was using a calculator of some kind--no one now can possibly know what exactly it was calculating, but the artifact itself was definitely a kind of calculator.

If you want to know who we are, this is the book for you.
Good text book for evolutionary psychology 5 Dec. 2013
By SCStick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, informative and entertaining! Good text book for evolutionary psychology, has some hidden gems in it as well, gave me a couple chuckles while studying for my exams.
The Rise of Homo sapiens 4 Mar. 2012
By JJ Chats - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book begins by reviewing current theory on parts of the human brain and what each part controls. From a common ancester 8 to 7 mya, 2 taxa evolved; one into chimpanzees and the other into humans. The authors then follow the human trail from Australopithecus to Homo erectus and on to Neandertal and Homo sapiens. Theories on cognition are tied to artifacts linked to hominin species. A very readable book with an extensive glossary.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Half Good 20 Aug. 2012
By California Bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I will quarrel with the title of the book. The authors do a good job of explaining the main title: "the rise of homo sapiens". But the treatment of the subtitle "the evolution of modern thinking" is inadequate. I imagine that our knowledge of these subjects will always be skewed, as the fossil and archeological record, which indicate physical and anatomical issues, do not say a lot about the "mental record".

There are are a few enticing hints about mental development, such as the development of the anatomy of the vocal tract, and the presence of burial sites and the development of stone knives and spears, and the cave art. But I think of "modern thinking" as the use of language, and there is not much direct evidence of that until written language appears.

I suppose the issue is in how one defines "modern thinking."
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