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The Descent of Humanity: The Biological Roots of Human Consciousness, Culture and History

Angelo N. M. Recchia-Luciani
Biosemiotics, 2013, 8: 53-84.


The notion of species-specific modelling allows us to construct taxonomies of mental models, based on the concept of qualia, such as posing 'invariant requests to neural processes', supporting networks of which are subject to selective pressures. The selection is based on their respective capacity to differently adapt to behaviour patterns, which neural networks control. For extremely premature births, thanks to foetalization, in Homo sapiens sapiens, specific neural groups are offered for selection in early critical periods of development and in a social environment. As a consequence, far beyond any other primate, new cognitive devices are developed, which lead to a high level of abstract thinking. Therefore, the reproposition of the cultural-historical psychology is important. Foetalization and education are the two pillars that give rise to the human being's ability to accumulate a perceivable and collective knowledge, which is precluded to other animal cultures. These are the roots both of consciousness and of the specific mechanisms that give rise to transmissibility and variability and adaptability of the human cultures. The key to this evolutionary quantum leap is the advent of a new class of replicators: memes, defined as informational patterns of a signic nature with a metaphorical, relational organization; memes are the basic framework in the structure of personality both in individuals and in social groups.