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4.0 out of 5 stars Prehistory of the Mind, 14 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Prehistory Of The Mind: A Search for the Origins of Art, Religion and Science (Paperback)
I did not expect to feel as strongly about this book as I do. As my previous reading had centred only around History and Archaeology I found its contents absolutely stunning. It has given me a profound insight into what it is to be human. I found Prof. Mithen's hypothesis for "Cathedrals of the Mind' compelling and the presented evidence fits well. The reason for four not five stars was that towards the end of the book I found the repetition necessary to drive home an academic point a little wearisome for the lay reader, although I understand it is difficult to be 'all things to all people'. Prof. Mithen gives the impression of being someone who does not suffer fools gladly, and no doubt he would think me one, but the picture which kept popping into my mind when thinking of the Middle/Upper Palaeolitic transition was that of Stanley Kubrick's monolith and our ancestors at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have fought against this and have been educated and entertained.
It would be interesting to know Steven Mithen's views on David Lewis-Williams hallucinogens and what effect they might have had cognitive fluidity. (Dare I say it - no I know I mustn't - but Graham Hancock also has some interesting and novel ideas on the subject in 'Supernatural').
For all the championing of Richard Dawkins, I was left wondering whether our own deification of Science is not also a superstitious arrogance, although I can see it is the best tool we have for pushing back the frontiers of knowledge; which is something this clearly thought provoking book may well have helped to do. Highly recommended.
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