Letter to the editor
The ASCAP Newsletter Vol.9, No.12 dec. 1996

Taking Evolutionary Psychology serious

as a dedicated reader of the ASCAP- Newsletter the use of notions like "origins of such and such behavior" seems increasingly shortsighted to me. Let me try to explain this uneasiness:

Taking evolutionary psychology serious, we must not stop with Paleolithic hunter-gatherers as our ancestors. Evolution concerns transition of species, yielding the new by changing the old. Surely arboricol primates anteceded hominids, surely tetrapodal mammals anteceded them. If we go further back, to the origin of the vertebrate/chordate phylum, we can take a kind of fish as an very early ancestors prototype. Let us suggest: Their life, their behavior shaped our brain organization more than all subsequent changes altogether did.

Surely fish relied an others to keep their life (and line) going. They were mobile, heterotrophic (feeding an others) and sexually active (choosing partners). It is not sure whether they were prey for other animals, but since mammalian times our line was threatened by predators for long periods. Cave-bears and sable-toothed tigers did not substantially change the hominid brain after such a long history of fighting for life.

In short: If Paleozoic fish behaved roughly as we might conceive of a recent standard fish; the first categorization of essential objects for them must have been: prey, predator, partner, competitors (same sex, same species, other species) and all sorts of neutral animals. As all these "objects" were themselves mobile, their discrimination by means of specific movement patterns were the first action tasks for the vertebrate nervous system. Inanimate objects did not matter much, because motion by physical causes is less complex compared to behavior.

In other words:
       Vertebrates are natural observers, or
       Vertebrate brains evolved in interaction with other brains, or
       A vertebrate brain needs another brain to show its basic functions, or 
       A vertebrate brain cannot be explained alone, or
       Neurophysiology originated as sociophysiology.

Sincerely yours

Anton Fuerlinger

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