Sunday, October 23, 2005

Heterochrony and human evolution

Richard Chappel at Philosophy, etc. had blogged about human exceptionalism. For some reason my comments there didn't stick. I had wanted to point to the phenomenon of ontogeny, and suggest that human ontogeny is unique. Not a simple matter though. A short but sweet examination of heterochony in primates from Dr. Sean Rice.

A related issue. Some months ago, Chris at Mixing Memory was dismissive of a statement by Annette Karmiloff-Smith, who, in answer to the question, "If you could teach the world one thing about science, what would it be?", replied: "Paradoxically, I wish that everyone-- including scientists working in the field-- fully understood that developmental disorders are developmental." Well, it's hardly a statement that invites vigorous defense, but I do feel that people in Chris's field could learn a lot from Dr. Karmiloff-Smith, or her basic approach, which is rooted in Piagetian developmental psychology. I didn't take this up at the time, in part because I was incensed by some criticisms of Richard Lewontin that were being aired in the comments, and I was struggling with my allergic reaction to "Evolutionary Psychology." To be honest I am not prepared to engage in an intelligent, philosophical debate on this topic. (That obviously reflects on me; it may also reflect on a quality of modern science.) I have just orded a used copy of Gould's Ontogeny and Phylogeny. While I'm thinking of it I'll put in an order for Lewontin's Triple Helix. Perhaps in a few years time I'll have something coherent to say about it.

posted by Fido the Yak at 1:04 PM.


Post a Comment

Fido the Yak front page