How did Homo sapiens become Homo docens? On the evolution of social learning and teaching during the Paleolithic

The purpose of the project is to analyse why teaching has evolved only in the line leading to Homo sapiens. This will be done by combining theoretical models with an analysis of archaeological material, primarily material from South Africa.

The theoretical part of the work views teaching and language as two forms of cooperation. Current research models the evolution of advanced forms of cooperation. This will be expanded by considering the role of education in human evolution.

The archaeological part concerns what conclusions relating to teaching can be drawn from material remnants. Two concepts are important in discussions of lithic technology: ‘knowledge’ and ‘know-how’. Knowledge is communicative, something that can be transferred through conversation or actions. Know-how is embodied memory, something that can only be learned by doing it oneself. The method followed will be chaîne opératoire analysis. This will allow the group to study aspects on how the learning of technologies took place through learners’ acquisition of knowledge and know-how.

Project leader(s):
  • Peter Gärdenfors (Lund University)
STIAS fellow(s):
  • Rudie Botha (Utrecht Institute of Linguistics and Stellenbosch University)
  • Anders Högberg (Linneaus University)
  • Lars Larsson (Lund University)
  • Marelize Lombard (University of Johannesburg)

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