Michael Arbib | The Aboutness of Language and the Evolution of the Construction-Ready Brain
To start with, the talk will review and update the hypothesis (How the Brain Got Language, Oxford University Press, 2012) that early Homo sapiens were language-ready in the sense that they had brains that could have supported language had it already been developed – but they were not language-using. The approach sees protolanguage emerging from complex recognition and imitation of manual skills via biocultural evolution, while cultural evolution alone supported the emergence of language from protolanguage. The key innovation in this talk is the argument that this approach supports the view that the H. sapiens language-ready brain had the more general property of being construction-ready. This notion will be illustrated with data from monkey and human tool use and bird nest construction (introducing the word becculation, manipulation with a beak, into the English language) as well as data and speculations on symbols and symbolism in the protohistory of human architecture.