Hypothesis 14

Mother and newborn 2

Funerery Rock, Machu Picchu, Peru
Funerery Rock, Machu Picchu, Peru

The newborn baby cannot develop its own activities; it orients itself towards the mother and tries to anticipate her actions and to share her intentions. This is the origin of the shared intentionality observed only in humans.

Intentional communication and cooperation have their phylogenetic origin in the communication and cooperation of mothers and newborns during the newborns’ helplessness in the first year of life.


The starting point of my considerations here is the study by Michael Tomasello on The Origins of Human Communication (German: Die Ursprünge der menschlichen Kommunikation Frankfurt/M. 2009). His comments on pointing gestures as the beginning of communication are convincing.

As far as the evolutionary beginnings of typically human communication and cooperation are concerned, however, I have come to different conclusions on the basis of theoretical considerations. Tomasello describes the phylogenetic origins in Chapter 5.

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If the brain is the biological seat of the mind, the two are therefore not identical to each other.

Parade, Cusco, Peru, 27. 8. 1989
Parade, Cusco, Peru, 27. 8. 1989

Moreover, the mind has its own identity, which must be explored and described. The basic form of the mind or culture arose in a special historical situation. With the mind a new level of existence was born,

emergent characteristics of individuals and social groups arose; characteristics that can no longer be adequately described with the biological theory framework but which require the use of humanities or social science theories.

In The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition, Michael Tomasello drew attention to what, on an evolutionary scale, was a short period of up to 250,000 years, during which man’s cultural development has taken place up to this day.

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The Canadian Merlin Donald believes he can prove that human culture and brain

Archbishop's Palace, formerly Inca Roca Palace, Cusco, Peru
Archbishop's Palace, formerly Inca Roca Palace, Cusco, Peru

have developed together in co-evolution.

The American Michael Tomasello, a researcher in Leipzig, believes that joint work and target-oriented joint activities were the decisive impulses on the path to a human culture.

There are thus two exponents who worked out concepts for the evolution of the human mind: Donald from an idealistic philosophical perspective and Tomasello from a behavioural perspective. Both refer to Darwin’s theory of evolution and to the latest scientific findings on evolution.

Both theories are particularly interesting and, in many ways, instructive, however neither of them has received the general recognition that would be comparable to the recognition of the physical evolution of human beings.

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