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Book Chapter

Culure and evolution

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Cross, I., Fitch, W. T., Aboitiz, F., Iriki, A., Jarvis, E. D., Lewis, J., et al. (2013). Culure and evolution. In M. A. Arbib (Ed.), Language, Music, and the Brain: A Mysterious Relationship (pp. 541-562). MIT Press.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-560E-B
This chapter captures extensive discussions between people with different forms of expertise and viewpoints. It explores the relationships between language and music in evolutionary and cultural context. Rather than trying to essentialize either, they are characterized pragmatically in terms of features that appear to distinguish them (such as language’s compositional propositionality as opposed to music’s foregrounding of isochronicity), and those that they evidently share. Factors are considered that consti-tute proximate motivations for humans to communicate through language and music, ranging from language’s practical value in the organization of collective behavior to music’s signifi cant role in eliciting and managing prosocial attitudes. Possible distal motivations are reviewed for music and language, in terms of the potentially adap-tive functions of human communication systems, and an assessment is made of the advantages which might accrue to fl exible communicators in the light of ethological and archaeological evidence concerning the landscape of selection. Subsequently, the possible evolutionary relationships between music and language are explored within a framework supplied by six possible models of their emergence. Issues of the roles of culture and of biology in the evolution of communication systems are then addressed within the framework of triadic niche construction, and the chapter concludes by sur-veying available comparative and phylogenetic issues that might inform the debate.