The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain
Deacon prefigures his thesis that Language and intellect arose together. I recall some philosophers at Berkeley in the early 50s being sure that language was not necessary for intelligence. I don’t recall having an opinion then.
I have much to object to in a section that ends about page 30 where Deacon follows a good many modern evolutionists in trying to say that human evolution is merely another niche which is not so special in the greater scheme of things. I think that this is a most peculiar perspective. I cling to the old-fashioned perspective that humans are very different, and even (gasp) better! You might object that each species would feel special from their own perspective, but I think we are the only species with perspectives!! If we should come to communicate with other intelligent species from other worlds, I could easily imagine granting them a superior place from my perspective. We are presumably the only species that has toyed with the virtue of not wiping out all other species.
I suspect that this peculiar evolutionists perspective stems from biologists trying to abstract the human from his intellect, as intellect is seldom or never among those things biologists study. Intellect is something apart which doesn’t need to be considered in their perspective. But we humans have had something very different than other animals for long enough that our evolution has been considerably influenced by our intellect; it is not a biological epiphenomenon.
Perhaps the evolution of the mind is like the evolution of the eye. Most complex eyes evolved to about the same design. This may be due to the very short list of feasible engineering designs (1?). Language may be the same. When we meet up with intelligent aliens, I am guessing that they will have the same style eyes, as some earth species, and roughly the same Chomsky grammar as ours. The eye evolved many times but there was a first time, just as there is a first time for the language ability. It may be that the language ability may be so significant that it precludes all other such developments in other species, occupying, as it does, a super niche which permits just one member.