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The full title of Kim Sterelny’s 2011 essay is “From hominins to humans: how sapiens became behaviorally modern”. The article addresses the so-called “sapien’s paradox”.
What is the sapien’s paradox?
Anatomically modern humans appear in the fossil record over 100,000 years ago. However, fully modern behaviors are not in evidence until much later. In particular, the Upper Paleolithic of Europe starts around 50,000 years ago, showing fully modern behaviors.
Current anthropological speculation fails to explain the uneven progress of our human ancestors towards modern competence.
Sterelny presents a conceptual model of behavioral modernity based on niche construction. The niche involves cultural information. The adaptation concerns the reliable transmission of information. Reliable transmission allows more cultural information to accumulate. In this way, the adaptation constructs the niche.
The goal of these comments is to frame Sterelny’s argument using the category-based nested form, particularly, the interscope. Such comments cohere to the foundational hypothesis found in The Human Niche.