Monday, December 1, 1997

Q&A Steven Pinker: Down To Darwin

Originally appeared in the Boston Book Review
(Date Approximate)

Our minds evolved by natural selection to solve problems that were life-and-death matters to our ancestors, not to commune with correctness or to answer any question we are capable of asking. We cannot hold ten thousand words in short-term memory. We cannot see ultraviolet light. We cannot mentally rotate an object in the fourth dimension. And perhaps we cannot solve conundrums like free will and sentience.
   Steven Pinker, "How the Mind Works"

HB: There's been a lot of focus on Darwinism lately. As if neither Freud nor Marx are going to make the cut into the 21st century and it's down to Darwin. Are we left with two basic models for understanding humanity's place on earth, one being revealed religion, the other, Darwinism?

SP: With evolutionary biology providing the link between social and psychological phenomena and the physical world.

HB: What do you mean by evolutionary psychology?