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This module will introduce students to the philosophical study of the mind as a product of cognitive evolution. We will gain a better understanding of how humans think, and of how the evolved structure of the human mind has a profound influence on elements of human culture, such as religion and the arts. We will examine the relationship between biological and cultural evolution in human behaviour, exploring such topics as cultural group selection, the epidemiology of representations, and evolutionary psychology. We will investigate why some culturally transmitted ideas have an easier way of spreading (e.g. religious beliefs) than others (e.g. quantum theory). We will examine to what extent elements of higher cognition are present in other animals (e.g. imitation, self-awareness), and how scientists draw these conclusions based on experimental work. As a result of this module, students gain a better understanding of the origins of human behaviour and culture, and especially, be able to critically appraise scientific theories such as evolutionary psychology. Next to an essay, the module will use in-class exercises and class debates.

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Evolution and the mind Semester 1 15/11/2022 20:39:23