THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The Origins of the Way We Think
Prentice Hall Press, 1991
Drawing on up-to-date evolutionary science to explain why we are so advanced relative to our nearest ancestors, psychologist Robert Ornstein posits that the human mind is an accident of nature. Our cortex enlarged to keep the brain cool, and once that happened, extra cells became available to be recruited for other as-yet-unforeseen functions such as writing operas, inventing microchips and creating smog. We are adaptive, not rational. Like all else on earth, our minds evolved to enhance survival, to get food, avoid danger and find the right mate. We are not a unified 'consciousness' but a phalanx of adaptations to circumstances, many minds shifting in and out of place to filter and respond to incoming stimuli. We are at a critical point in human development, says the author, where the pace of our inventiveness has outstripped that of 'accidental' adaptation, and our survival will depend on initiating a process of 'conscious evolution.'
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