Leading Primatologist discusses evolution of emotions
By JOHN BAUERNFEIND | IDS
POSTED AT 11:29 PM ON APR. 2, 2013 (UPDATED AT 11:33 PM ON APR. 2, 2013)
Hosted by the Patten Foundation Lectures, Sarah Hrdy gave the first of her two scheduled lectures in Bloomington this week to a full audience. In her lecture, titled “The origin of emotionally modern humans: How did humans become such ‘other-regarding’ apes?” she discussed psychological and emotional evolution in humans.
Hrdy is the professor emerita at the University of California-Davis.
Constance Furey, associate professor of the department of religious studies, is a member of the Patten Foundation Committee, who chose Hrdy to speak.
“Her work is so wide ranging, and it’s relevant to humans,” Furey said. “Her work is very non-deterministic.”
Hrdy, a leading anthropologist, focuses on primatology.
“We were here before we were warlike,” she said, commenting on the overall theme and message of her speech. Essentially, early humans developed social learning before warfare and violence.
Hrdy hit on many points throughout her lecture, discussing in depth the similarities and profound differences shared between apes and humans concerning cognitive abilities.
“There are differences,” Hrdy said in her speech. “In terms of social learning, communication and theory of the mind, humans and human children have performed better.”
Aaron Stalnaker, associate professor of the department of religious studies, was a member of the packed audience.
“It was fantastic,” Stalnaker said, referring to Hrdy’s speech. “Her argument regarding impulses was compelling.”
Hrdy talked at length about initial impulses and how they were formed and developed, and how they acted as stepping stones in humans differentiating themselves from apes.
“By focusing so much on warfare we forget about more common occupations, like childrearing, that were much more important in initial impulses,” Hrdy said.
Hrdy will speak again at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Maurer School of Law Moot Court Room. The title of this lecture is “From Mr. Mom to Deadbeat Dads.”
“She (Hrdy) really shows how much of a significant factor diversity is,” Furey said.