Cecilia Heyes, Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, ix + 292 pp., $31.50/£25.95/€28.50 [Book Review]

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (2):1-5 (2020)
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Heyes’ book is an essential addition to the literature on human uniqueness. Her main claim is that the key human cognitive capacities are products of cultural rather than genetic evolution. Among these distinctively human capacities are causal understanding, episodic memory, imitation, mindreading, and normative thinking. According to Heyes, they emerged not by genetic mutation but by innovations in cognitive development. She calls these mechanisms ‘cognitive gadgets.’ This is perhaps one of the best and most comprehensive views of human cognitive evolution advanced in recent years.

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Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera
University of Berne


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