Maxine Sheets-Johnstone (1994) The Roots of Thinking . Psycoloquy: 5(08) Evolution Thinking (1)
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Psycoloquy 5(08): The Roots of Thinking

[Temple University Press 1990, 15 chapters, 389 pages]
Precis of Sheets-Johnstone on Evolution-Thinking

Maxine Sheets-Johnstone
Department of Philosophy
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403



This interdisciplinary book addresses the question of conceptual origins. Its thesis is that there is an indissoluble bond between hominid thinking and hominid evolution, a bond cemented by the living body. The thesis is illustrated in detail in eight paleoanthropological case studies ranging from tool-using/ tool-making to counting, sexuality, representation, language, death, and cave art. In each case, evidence is brought forward that shows how thinking is modeled on the body; specifically, how concepts such as the concept of number, of death, of drawing, and of oneself as a sound-maker are generated by animate form and tactile-kinesthetic experience. The two major forms of opposition to the thesis--cultural relativism and metaphysical dualism--are in turn critically examined and put to rest. Methodological issues are also critically examined and the expanded paleoanthropological methodology that informs the paleoanthropological case studies is fully spelled out.


analogical thinking, animate form, concepts, evolution, tactile-kinesthetic body.