Take a front-and-centre seat today at the official launch celebration for York philosophy Professor David Martel Johnson’s new book Three Prehistoric Inventions That Shaped Us (Peter Lang, 2011). Hosted by the Office of the Master of Vanier College and the Department of Philosophy, the event begins at 3:30pm in the Vanier College Common Room, 001 Vanier College. It includes an informal presentation by the author, a question-and-answer session and a reception.
Right: David Martel Johnson
Both Darwin and neo-Darwinist theorists like Stephen Jay Gould were wrong to suppose that human nature and the human mind arose out of biological and historical sources alone. In Three Prehistoric Inventions That Shaped Us Johnson argues that humans are very different from other animals in certain respects and, because of those respects, some of the most important sources of the particular sort of human nature we possess at the present moment, and of the special types of thinking in which we now are able to engage, were cultural ones.
To be more specific, it shows that our present day human nature was shaped in fundamental ways by at least three intellectual inventions that some of our prehistoric ancestors made – namely, the inventions of religious consciousness, of domestication of animals and of syntactically organized language.
A Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Johnson has taught at York University since 1965. He has edited (with Christina Erneling) The Future of the Cognitive Revolution (1997), (with Demetra Sfendoni-Mentzou and Jagdish Hattiangadi) Aristotle and Contemporary Science, Volume II (Peter Lang, 2000); and (with Christina Erneling) The Mind as a Scientific Object (2005). He also is the author of How History Made the Mind (2003). Johnson has been awarded a number of honours, including the Kenyon Prize Scholarship in Philosophy, 1960-1961, the Woodrow Wilson Fellow, 1961-1962, and a place in the 1974 Summer Institute in Early Modern Philosophy, Providence, Rhode Island.
Everyone is invited to attend the launch. In addition to the print version, Johnson has just completed recording an audio version of Three Prehistoric Inventions That Shaped Us, which will be available later this year.