The Adapted Mind


Barkow, Cosmides, and Tooby


Science, evolutionary psychology

Recommended by Eliezer Yudkowsky (see below).

Ratings, awards, mentions and recommendationsEdit

Yudkowsky's recommendationEdit

Books of knowledgeEdit

After The Moral Animal comes The Adapted Mind, brought to you courtesy of Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby, and brought to me courtesy of Paul Hughes (he sent me a copy as a birthday present). If you're already familiar with evolutionary psychology, this book won't rock your world to its foundations - but it'll be fun to read. (At least, if you're familiar enough with cognitive science to understand it. This is not an introductory-level book. It took me a month to read it, and my ordinary speed is around a book a day.) The book is a collection of chapters by specialists in various fields of evolutionarily grounded cognitive science; the authors listed are simply the editors.

The most wonderful chapter was definitely The Psychological Foundations of Culture, by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby. To describe the forces that generate a culture, you need to describe the evolution of the psychology that composes the culture, the environment and cultural environment that created the selection forces that drove the evolution, not to mention the evolution of the cultural memes themselves. So they did. It's all in here. All the interactions. All the causality. Laid out in neat little paragraphs.

There's also an amazing little gem about the human visual system. Why is the sky blue? Yes, because the air scatters blue light - but why does the sky look blue? Why do we see blue as a pure, beautiful color? Would any sky look the same to the creatures that evolved underneath it? Why are there three types of cones (color receptors) in the retina, and not four or two? Why those three cones? And why is purple the strangest of all colors?

Why are flowers pretty? What makes a landscape interesting?

To find out, you'll just have to read the book.

Links and referencesEdit

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