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Social Brain, Distributed Mind$
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Robin Dunbar, Clive Gamble, and John Gowlett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264522

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264522.001.0001

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Firing Up the Social Brain

Firing Up the Social Brain

Chapter:
(p.340) (p.341) 17 Firing Up the Social Brain
Source:
Social Brain, Distributed Mind
Author(s):

John Gowlett

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197264522.003.0017

The mastery of fire is a great human achievement which has helped shape our species. This chapter addresses the wider importance of fire, arguing that it is part of a fundamental motor of human evolution, deeply tied into our biology as well as economy and technology, and indeed a motor of the social brain. It seems likely that fire was involved in this nexus from a very early period, probably back to the time of increases in human brain size in the early Pleistocene, and indeed that it may have been a necessity for the subsequent physical evolutionary and social developments in Homo. Fire may be associated so strongly with imagery, imagination and symbolism in the modern world as a result of its primary role in effecting transformation of materials, and acting to link various strands of material culture.

Keywords:   human evolution, fire, social brain, biology, Homo species, material culture

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