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Copyright © 1997, Jay Ligda.  All rights reserved.  Published by Humans in the Universe and Jay Ligda.

Evolution, Language, and the Imagination

      Jaynes (1976) suggests that words allow people to remember what they are doing by repeating over and over in their minds what it was they were doing.  Without words, "a Middle Pleistocene man would forget what he was doing" (p. 134).  The next logical step, Jaynes (1976) argues, is the naming of things or the invention of nouns.  McCrone (1991) writes that by naming things, people could begin to share their memories: "If a chimp wanted to tell you about a boat, it would have to drag you within sight of the vessel and start stabbing its finger at it.  A human just has to say the word and the listener's mind provides the rest" (p. 155). The invention of nouns would have greatly expanded the capacity of the imagination. Each new noun would be linked with a picture of that object that could be accessed and linked to other objects-all within the confines of the mind. The evolution of self-awareness would have happened when a noun was invented to represent ones own self and a mental image of ones own self could be viewed in the mind.

by Jay Ligda

(This work is a all or part of an original work first published/written for John. F. Kennedy University:  Final Integrative Project., Mar1996.)


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References

  • Jaynes, J. (1976).  The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.  Boston, MA:  Houghton Mifflin.
  • McCrone, J. (1991).  The Ape that Spoke:  Language and the Evolution of the Human Mind.  New York, NY:  William Morrow.
  • Pearson, D. & Shaw, S. (1982).  Life Extension:  A Practical Scientific Approach.  New York, NY:  Warner.

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