4 hours ago
Humphrey... goes so far as to suggest that the whole faculty of subjective consciousness and self-awareness evolved as a device to facilitate reading the minds of others.Humphrey spells it out simply in the summary of his article:
I argue that the higher intellectual faculties of primates have evolved as an adaptation to the complexities of social living. For better or worse, styles of thinking which are primarily suited to social problem-solving colour the behaviour of man and other primates even towards the inanimate world.He describes what this means in greater detail on pages 309-310:
Thus social primates are required by the very nature of the system they create and maintain to be calculating beings; they must be able to calculate the consequences of their own behaviour, to calculate the likely behaviour of others, to calculate the balance of advantage and loss - and all this in a context where the evidence on which their calculations are based is ephemeral, ambiguous and liable to change, not least as a consequence of their own actions. In such a situation, 'social skill ' goes hand in hand with intellect, and here at last the intellectual faculties required are of the highest order...
Once a society has reached a certain level of complexity, then new internal pressures must arise which act to increase its complexity still further. For, in a society of the kind outlined, an animal's intellectual 'adversaries' are members of his own breeding community. If intellectual prowess is correlated with social success, and if social success means high biological fitness, then any heritable trait which increases the ability of an individual to outwit his fellows will soon spread through the gene pool. And in these circumstances there can be no going back: an evolutionary 'ratchet' has been set up, acting like a self-winding watch to increase the general intellectual standing of the species.
I am grateful to Maynard Smith, who agreed to publish my paper on the handicap principle (Zahavi 1975), even though he did not believe in verbal models. I am also grateful to him for publishing his own paper rejecting the principle (Maynard Smith 1976b). By doing so he drew the attention of the scientific community to the controversy.I've read about half of The Handicap Principle, and have since found several other books that mention the idea as well (see list). Of these books, it was Maynard Smith's Animal Signals that finally provided a lucid counterpoint to Zahavi's interpretation. Refreshingly, he questions the universality with which Zahavi applies the Handicap Principle to signals. After reading large portions of his book, I am led to believe that costs are avoided whenever possible, and "costly signalling theory" is not a universal explanation. Maynard Smith clarifies the terms used to describe categories of signals, including: signal, cue, ritualization, handicap, cost (efficacy cost, strategic cost), index, minimal-cost signal, icon, and symbol. The distinction between an index and a handicap is particularly important. He links the study of animal signals to the field of semiotics, the communication of meaning, but of which Eco wrote "semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything that can be used in order to lie." Charming. Eco further proposed that every cultural phenomenon can be studied as communication.