Primer, John Tooby
[Tooby, Cosmides]
Leda Cosmides, primer

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Leda Cosmides, John Tooby
& Evolutionary Psychology

    John Tooby and Leda Cosmides are co-directors of the "Center for Evolutionary Psychology" at the University of California Santa Barbara where they are respectively also active as professors of anthropology and psychology.

  Tooby and Cosmides are joint editors of The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, a book that helped to widely launch Evolutionary Psychology as a widely influential field of study.

  In association with their roles they have produced a Primer that explicitly outlines their view of the role and direction of Evolutionary Psychology.

  According to the Primer researches should aspire to more fully discover things about the human mind and to understand its design. The mind is seen as being:-

  "a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors".

  Evolutionary Psychology sees the more traditional view of the human mind as being a free social construction disconnected from any evolutionary or psychological foundation as being radically defective. Its researchers increasingly seem to expect that their efforts will tend to provide a thoroughly persuasive alternative view where all human beings will be recognised as having a standard and innate set of reasoning and regulatory "circuits" that are designed by evolutionary processes of natural selection to provide us all with frames of meaning within which each person tends to act and with reference to which each person tends to assess the behaviors of others.

  The Primer explicitly states that "Our modern skulls house a stone age mind" and sets out a case contrasting the very many generations, and millions of years, where human beings lived "small scale hunter-gatherer band" existences and contrasts this with the few generations, and hundreds of years, in which the bulk of humanity has lived in more sophisticated circumstances.

  There may then be reasoning and regulatory "circuits" that have been effectively designed and re-inforced by evolutionary processes over several millions of years. These reasoning and regulatory "circuits" will however be suited to successful and continued human existence within a tribal hunter-gatherer situation - with all that that implies.

  If this hypothesis is correct it would follow that the human mind innately supports hunting, gathering, negotiation within the band or tribe, courtship and mating, nuturing of the young as well as the defence of territory and of the band or tribe against outside threat.

  If there are such innate "circuits" it follows that there will be then a most substantial carry over of "small scale hunter-gatherer band frames of meaning and reference" into the modern world. A modern world that features such things as large scale societies, industrialisation, urbanisation, horrendously powerful weapons of war, and so forth.

  It is suggested that humanity has not had enough time in modernity for there to be any compensation by forces of natural selection that might help modern people to better cope with problems of how to act, and how to interpret the actions of others, in ways that promote successful human existence in the circumstances in which many people live today.


Introductory quotations
Evolutionary Psychology
E O Wilson
Tooby and Cosmides
Are Faith and Reason Compatible?
Spirituality &
the wider world



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Leda Cosmides, John Tooby
& Evolutionary Psychology