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In this highly original work, one of the world’s most distinguished child psychiatrists together with a philosopher at the forefront of ape and child language research present a startling hypothesis-that the development of our higher-level symbolic thinking, language, and social skills cannot be explained by genes and natural selection, but depend on cultural practices learned anew by each generation over millions of years, dating back to primate and prehuman cultures. Furthermore, for the first time, they present their remarkable research revealing the steps leading to symbolic thinking in the life of each new human infant and show that contrary to now-prevailing theories of Pinker, Chomsky, and others, there is no biological explanation that can account for these distinctly human abilities.Drawing from their own original work with human infants and apes, and meticulous examination of the fossil record, Greenspan and Shanker trace how each new species of nonhuman primates, prehumans, and early humans mastered and taught to their offspring in successively greater degrees the steps leading to symbolic thinking. Their revolutionary theory and compelling evidence reveal the true origins of our most advanced human qualities and set a radical new direction for evolutionary theory, psychology, and philosophy.
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