The mating mind' revives and extends Darwin's suggestion that sexual selection through mate choice was important in human mental evolution - especially the more 'self-expressive' aspects of human behavior, such as art, morality, language, and creativity. Their 'survival value' has. MATING. MIND. How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature. Geoffrey Miller. ANCHOR BOOKS. A Division of Random House, Inc. New York. The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. Geoffrey Miller. AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST • VOL. , No.
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At once a pioneering study of evolution and an accessible and lively reading experience, The Mating Mind marks the arrival of a prescient and provocative new. The Mating Mind. By Geoffrey Miller, New York: Doubleday, Reviewed by John D. Wagner. Why have humans evolved such costly and complex brains?. "At once a pioneering study of evolution and an accessible and lively read, The Mating Mind offers the most convincing -- and radical -- explanation to date for.
Its activity lectively with the best available male. What counts as the "best" does not have to be explicitly sexual or erotic to be an honest fit- mate has been under intense theoretical debate and empirical ness indicator, although, holy Darwin and Wallace, Sigmund, it analysis for the last three decades. Miller advocates the primacy sure does that a lot.
Rather, the brain's wasteful filigrees display of matechoice as the key to understanding humankind's unique genomic "wealth. Strange bedfellows, namely, socio- mind manifest in cultural diversity. Given the expanse of this biologists and evolutionary psychologists, validate the anthro- topic, it is perhaps not surprising to find that Miller's book is pologist's traditional celebration of the symbolic arbitrariness broad in scope, complex in presentation, and sometimes glib in and creative meaning of culture.
As his notebooks make clear, Darwin realized that a species' Afiermore than a century, the failure to find a totally convinc- psychology is a major source of selective pressure on all traits, ing survival-advantage for our uniquely large brain, complex but, especially, psychological traits. Sexual selection is there- cognitive skills, and panoply of shifting emotions, which does fore an intrinsically self-reinforcing, recursive process.
This be- not apply to other animals, suggests that it is time to apply Dar- comes clear in the domain of sensory bias. The psychophysi- win's other theory in earnest. Our minds and bodies may have ological structure and function of perception may bias the evolved not just as survival machines, but also as courtship de- output of sexual selection.
Symmetric or colorful "secondary," vices. Those peculiarly human traits described in introductory sexual traits like skin color or pelage patterns may arise because anthropology courses that differentiate us from the rest of nature of their exploitation of the built-in, perceptual predispositions of are indeed not amenable to survival-advantage arguments. Af- species psychology. For example, female mollies prefer males ter all, what is the survival payoff of a good joke, a catchy mel- with swordtails although males of their species lack such fea- ody, or a story about the gods, let alone narcissism and irony?
Sexual ornamentations evolve because they tickle the Death to functionalism! Of course, many have offered survival senses. Kurland, Zygon, However, Given his multimechanism theory of mate choice, Miller por- Miller finds them inadequate. Fisher's "runaway" process The Cenetical tem of extended phenotypes.
Like the virtual dance of some bi- Theory ofNatural Selection, Dover Publications, is criti- zarre mental grebe, our ancestors titillated each other during cal for understanding the evolution of the hypertrophied human courtship not only with pleasuring genitals and eroticized skin, mind, Miller recognizes that the kind of exaggerated sexual di- but also with the ability to improvise vocalizations, move emo- morphism that this mechanism produces, for example, in pea- tions, tickle one's fancy.
With their complex so- cocks, simply does not apply to humans. As in language, where ciality, large brains, intricate vocalizations, behavioral creativ- each of us generates and decodes speech, putative courtship dis- ity, and sensuous skin, cetaceans, like dolphins, might also plays like humor, intelligence, and nurturance require that eve- conform to Miller's mating mind theory.
Hence, claims Miller, mu- Miller speculates that by being internal representations of po- tual mate choice must have operated in the course of human tential fitness effects, pleasure and pain allow the individual to evolution.
Indeed, it has become ap- Matechoice will also favor those most responsive to reliable, parent to cognitive neuroscientists that the mind is embodied, phenotypic markers of "good genes.
Lakoff and M. Feelings "indicator" but lack the "good genes," from evolving?
Back to are the engine of reason. They motivate human sociality. In the introductory anthropology. Conspicuous consumption, such as context of sexual courtship, because these mental machinations aKwakiutl potlatch, makes obvious one's true wealth.
By anal- demand unpredictability and novelty "protean behavior" for ogy, true fitness can be reliably advertised by costly "handi- maximal effectiveness; that is, for peak attractiveness, the posi- caps" that are therefore not counterfeit, such as seemingly altru- tive feedback of sexual selection takes over, ever cranking up istic acts of hunting or charity.
The peacock's tail indicates how mental prowess and thus brain size over evolutionary time. Cul- much reserve is available to carry and flaunt it. Seventy years af- tural activities like dance, music, or decoration may vary unpre- ter Boas in anthropology, Veblen in sociology, and Spence in dictably from place to place in their details, however, their economics, Zahavi' s "handicap principle" JournalojTheoreti- costliness, uselessness, and high value "beauty" to humans cal Biology, provides a key explanation for the evolution suggests that their evolutionary origins are to be found in sexual of altruism, communication, and courtship.
That is, the psychology of a particular group of Afri- "Fitness indicators" can be indirect and devious in their can hominids may have evolved due to biased responses to an causal link to our DNA, for example, the fluctuating geometry ancestral, ape psychology. Evolutionary Freudianism comes of of faces, bodies, and digits; so why not our feelings, thoughts, age! Taking up the baton from studies such as Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, it's a dizzyingly ambitious project, which would be impossibly vague without the ingenuity and irreverence that Miller brings to bear on it.
Steeped in popular culture, the book mixes theories of runaway selection, fitness indicators, and sensory bias with explanations of why men tip more than women and how female choice shaped quite literally the penis.
It also extols the sagacity of Mary Poppins. Indeed, Miller allows ideas to cascade at such a torrent that the steam given off can run the risk of being mistaken for hot air. That large personalities can be as sexually enticing as oversize breasts or biceps may indeed prove comforting, but denuding sexual chemistry can be a curiously unsexy business, akin to analyzing humor.
As a courting display of Miller's intellectual plumage, though, The Mating Mind is formidable, its agent-provocateur chest swelled with ideas and articulate conjecture. While occasionally his magpie instinct may loot fool's gold, overall it provides an accessible and attractive insight into modern Darwinism and the survival of the sexiest.
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Consciousness, morality, creativity, language, and art: these are the traits that make us human. Scientists have traditionally explained these qualities as merely a side effect of surp Ad veri latine efficiantur quo, ea vix nisl euismod explicari. Mel prima vivendum aliquando ut. Sit suscipit tincidunt no, ei usu pertinax molestiae assentior.
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