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Zoon politikon: The evolutionary origins of human socio-political systems


Gintis, Herbert; van Schaik, Carel; Boehm, Christopher (2019). Zoon politikon: The evolutionary origins of human socio-political systems. Behavioural Processes, 161:17-30.

Abstract

We deploy the most up-to-date evidence available in various behavioral fields in support of the following hypothesis: The emergence of bipedalism and cooperative breeding in the hominin line, together with environmental developments that made a diet of meat from large animals adaptive, as well as cultural innovations in the form of fire, cooking, and lethal weapons, created a niche for hominins in which there was a significant advantage to individuals with the ability to communicate and persuade in a moral context. These forces added a unique political dimension to human social life which, through gene-culture coevolution, became Homo ludens—Man, the game player—with the power to conserve and transform the social order. Homo sapiens became, in the words of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, a zoon politikon.

Abstract

We deploy the most up-to-date evidence available in various behavioral fields in support of the following hypothesis: The emergence of bipedalism and cooperative breeding in the hominin line, together with environmental developments that made a diet of meat from large animals adaptive, as well as cultural innovations in the form of fire, cooking, and lethal weapons, created a niche for hominins in which there was a significant advantage to individuals with the ability to communicate and persuade in a moral context. These forces added a unique political dimension to human social life which, through gene-culture coevolution, became Homo ludens—Man, the game player—with the power to conserve and transform the social order. Homo sapiens became, in the words of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, a zoon politikon.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Behavioral Neuroscience, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 April 2019
Deposited On:01 Mar 2019 07:16
Last Modified:28 Mar 2019 02:05
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0376-6357
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2018.01.007

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