PhD Evolutionary Educational Psychology | Monday, 11 November 2013 | Blog

Sarah (Amsler) and I have been riffing on evolutionary approaches to social science since we met in autumn 2011; I continue to find the process tremendously exciting. During October, we began meeting regularly in The Angel Coffee House to discuss our ideas on one another’s texts/offerings. I will be using this blog to share the research that is informing my contribution to our work/play.

Michael L Anderson’s work on neural reuse, especially his paper on Eroding the Boundaries of Cognition, has often been in play.

As has the work of evolutionary minded theorists like Eva Jablonka…

Ideas about heredity and evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. New findings in molecular biology challenge the gene-centered version of Darwinian theory according to which adaptation occurs only through natural selection of chance DNA variations. In Evolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb argue that there is more to heredity than genes. They trace four “dimensions” in evolution—four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic (or non-DNA cellular transmission of traits), behavioral, and symbolic (transmission through language and other forms of symbolic communication). These systems, they argue, can all provide variations on which natural selection can act. Evolution in Four Dimensions offers a richer, more complex view of evolution than the gene-based, one-dimensional view held by many today. The new synthesis advanced by Jablonka and Lamb makes clear that induced and acquired changes also play a role in evolution.

After discussing each of the four inheritance systems in detail, Jablonka and Lamb “put Humpty Dumpty together again” by showing how all of these systems interact. They consider how each may have originated and guided evolutionary history and they discuss the social and philosophical implications of the four-dimensional view of evolution. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors engage the contrarieties of the fictional (and skeptical) “I.M.,” or Ifcha Mistabra—Aramaic for “the opposite conjecture”—refining their arguments against I.M.’s vigorous counterarguments. The lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski’s lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors’ points.

(Text: VideoLectures.Net Single Lectures Series – Eva Jablonka)

Richerson: Human Co-operation is Complex. In response: SSI Week 19 07032013

Richerson, P.J. (2012) ‘Human cooperation is a complex problem with many possible solutions: perhaps all of them are true! Social Evolutionary Forum, 2 December, available online at

At the end of our session on Thursday, I asked everyone if they had any questions… this is my first offering to Alice, Vernon and Mike.

I also think John Bellamy Foster’s Marx’s Ecology (188-189) addresses some of Mike’s concerns; I’ll bring my copy along next Thursday.

Respectfully yours,