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The History of the Brain. 1.7 million BP Homo ergaster emerged in Africa. Lived on the ground. Shortened gut/larger brain. Long period of infant dependency.

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Presentation on theme: "The History of the Brain. 1.7 million BP Homo ergaster emerged in Africa. Lived on the ground. Shortened gut/larger brain. Long period of infant dependency."— Presentation transcript:

1 The History of the Brain

2 1.7 million BP Homo ergaster emerged in Africa. Lived on the ground. Shortened gut/larger brain. Long period of infant dependency

3 The next 1.6 million years... 1 million years BP migration of ergasters from Africa (Homo erectus) 140,000 years BP fully modern humans (Homo sapiens) 85,000-50,000 years BP migration out of Africa 70,000 BP climate change leads to ice age 18,000 BP ice begins to melt

4 Paleolithic Society

5 The shift to agriculture and sedentism Civilization could not invent new forms of biochemistry; instead, it invented new ways of exploiting the existing chemistry.

6

7 Civilization and Psychotropy Psychotropic mechanisms are the mood-altering practices, behaviors, and institutions generated by human culture. (Smail, p. 161) Dance Ritual Song Intoxicants Instant-access to pornography via internet Hollywood thriller Shopping malls. Reality tv shows.

8 Dominance Hierarchies Dominance hierarchies are deeply rooted in our phylogeny. Christopher Boehm has argued that human societies in the Paleolithic era were governed by coalitions of weak members, but with the agricultural revolution, capacities we can now identify in chimpanzees were, as Smail puts it, “turned back on,” allowing humans to recognize dominance. While political elites could not have been aware of the precise physiological consequences of their actions and behaviors, they could take advantage of that chemistry. Agricultural societies created disparities in wealth, that allowed for a new, more intensive form of oppression. Smail has argued that “alpha-males” reinvent the pattern of random abuse because it is effective.

9 Gossip Gossip plays exactly the same role in human societies as grooming does among other primates. (Dunbar) Gossip seems to function only as mutual stimulation and peace-and-contentment hormone stimulation. (Smail)

10 The Long 18 th - Century Novels, spectacular executions, gossip-enabling cafes and salons, caffeine, etc., all emerged to heights that troubles social commentators of the time. “The long eighteenth century was the century of addiction.” (Smail) This was also the century of de-Christianization. It is reasonable to suggest the two go hand-in-hand. Deprived of dopamine producing religious experiences, other experiences became more important. The notion of progress is an illusion of psychotropy.


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