The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 1.1 X 9.1 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Daniel Cloud teaches philosophy at Princeton University. He is also the author of.The Lily: Evolution, Play, and the Power of a Free Society


The Domestication of Language brings an important new perspective to an extraordinarily difficult and important topic: the evolution of language. Language is the result of intelligence: an invented social and communicative technology, invented not by a Promethean genius, but multi-generationally by us all as we respond to and experiment in our specific situations. Over many generations, we have converted our original, wild, native endowment of communicative capacity to something new, special, and transforming.--Kim Sterelny, Australian National University
A superbly original book and an exciting piece of philosophy. Cloud builds a serious account of the evolution of language that recognizes the long and complex process that links the prior state (nothing like language at all) to the end state (language of the kinds now in existence) and that responds to the points of greatest difficulty in that process.--Philip Kitcher, Columbia University
Cloud has done much more than given us a 'just-so story' about the evolution of language. He has identified the real obstacles it had to surmount and creatively drawn on the best hard science to show how it overcame them.--Alex Rosenberg, Duke University
This stimulating and engaging book lucidly defends a remarkable proposal. Just as a breeder of honeybees makes choices that influence the evolution of domesticated bees, all of us--by choosing which words and practices to employ and which ones to scowl, chuckle, or roll our eyes at--actively influence the evolution of our language and culture.--Adam Elga, Princeton University
A tour de force. Drawing on recent work in the philosophy of language, evolutionary biology, and ethology, Daniel Cloud has fashioned a new account of the origins of our capacity for linguistic communication. Cloud's book is both a wonderfully readable introduction to the topic and a bold and original work of scholarship. Any attempt to reconstruct the origins of language will be speculative, but this is the best sort of speculation: rigorous, scientifically informed, strikingly imaginative, and utterly plausible.--Gideon Rosen, Princeton University
[The Domestication of Language] presents an intriguing new theory of cultural evolution.--Nikhil Sonnad "Quartz "
This serious piece of academic writing is a must-read for those working on the frontiers of the philosophy of language.--Library Journal
If you're into the evolution of language, you'll love The Domestication of Language.--Farnam Street
A bold hypothesis and a book worth reading.... Recommended.--Choice
The book is tightly argued. It builds wonderfully on the work of others and offers realistic aspirations for futher research agendas in various disciplines.--Metapsychology