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The Evolution of Language: Towards Gestural Hypotheses

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Przemysław Żywiczyński and Sławomir Wacewicz

This book discusses the scope and development of the science of language evolution – a newly emergent field that investigates the origin of language. The book is addressed to audiences who are not professionally involved in science and presents the problems of language origins together with introductory information on such topics as the theory of evolution, elements of linguistic theory, the neural infrastructure of language or the signalling theory.

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Chapter 2 Evolution, Evolutionism, Evolutionary Thinking

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Is evolution a theory, a system, or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow, this is what evolution is.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955, philosopher and Jesuit)

We live in a Darwinian world. If we stop to think, we realise that, without exception, the whole organic world which surrounds us – from the simplest organisms to people – is the effect of evolutionary processes whose principles are best described by the Darwinian theory of evolution. Although this has been accepted in the Western intellectual tradition for over 150 years, it is only in recent decades that its implications have been fully appreciated: since the principles of evolution (and especially those of natural selection) are so fundamental, universal and ubiquitous, their application as a research approach can open new dimensions of learning about the world. Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973) said that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. One of the effects of the research conducted in the recent years is an expansion of this approach beyond the domain of biology in its classical sense, and applying evolutionary thinking as a key to understanding an extremely broad and varied range of phenomena.

Evolutionary thinking is growing in...

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