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Symbolic thought is what makes us human. Claude Lévi-Strauss stated that we can never know the genesis of symbolic thought, but in this powerful new study Alan Barnard argues that we can. Continuing the line of analysis initiated in Social Anthropology and Human Origins (Cambridge University Press, 2011), The Genesis of Symbolic Thought applies ideas from social anthropology, old and new, to understand some of the areas also being explored in fields as diverse as archaeology, linguistics, genetics and neuroscience. Barnard aims to answer questions including: when and why did language come into being? What was the earliest religion? And what form did social organization take before humanity dispersed from the African continent? Rejecting the notion of hunter-gatherers as 'primitive', Barnard hails the great sophistication of the complex means of their linguistic and symbolic expression and places the possible origin of symbolic thought at as early as 130,000 years ago.Read more
- An exploration of the origins of the symbolic thought from one of the world's leading social anthropologists
- Applies ideas from social anthropology to understand areas also being explored in fields as diverse as archaeology, linguistics, genetics and neuroscience
- Reconsiders the explosion of art, religion and language that lies at the heart of what makes us human
Reviews & endorsements
"Barnard attempts to answer the question of when and how human symbolic thought originated … The book is written in a way that should make it easily understood by nonspecialists, but it should be of value and interest to specialists as well … Recommended. All levels/libraries."
C. L. Thompson, Choice
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- Date Published: July 2012
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107651098
- length: 208 pages
- dimensions: 227 x 152 x 10 mm
- weight: 0.33kg
- contains: 14 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
2. Stones, bones, ochre and beads
3. Kinship, sociality and the symbolic order
4. Ritual and religion
5. The flowering of language
6. Conquering the globe
7. After symbolic thought: the Neolithic
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