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Language, Fantasy and Storytelling: How Humans Became Creative

Haggerstone, Andrew (2017) Language, Fantasy and Storytelling: How Humans Became Creative. PhD thesis, University of York.

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The thesis I try to develop here hopes to contribute to some recent discussions on the evolution of human creative cognition. In particular, it is a response to the view that pretend play was a primary driver of the evolution of human creativity, a position defended in Carruthers (2002), Picciuto and Carruthers (2014) and elsewhere. This thesis doesn’t directly address what we might think of as a traditional philosophical puzzle. Instead, my concern here is with a puzzle that has its origins in palaeoanthropology. While it might not be ‘our’ puzzle, it nonetheless touches upon areas which have long been the concern of philosophers: the nature of thought and its relationship to language, the nature of representation in art, and more recent concerns with our understanding of concepts like the imagination and creativity and what their relationship might be. It appears as though the emergence of our species saw a rapid (in evolutionary terms) development of material culture, from new hunting techniques to the production of representational art. Because of its dramatic contrast with the relatively stagnant material culture of pre-cursor hominids this has sometimes been described as a ‘creative explosion’. One of the central questions this dramatic change prompts is what drove this explosion? Many answers have been posited, including the emergence of language, the appearance of pretend play in childhood, and the accumulation of material wealth in the form of skills and improved tools that allowed our ancestors the time to be creative. I develop an alternative thesis which sees a co-evolution of language, a tendency to engage in fantasy, and the externalisation of this tendency in storytelling as the explanation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Philosophy (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.745746
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Haggerstone
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:33
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20363

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