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Darwin-L Message Log 1:15 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<1:15>From MKIMBALL@macc.wisc.edu  Sun Sep  5 15:28:47 1993

Date: Sun, 05 Sep 93 15:29 CDT
From: Michael Kimball <MKIMBALL@macc.wisc.edu>
Subject: another new member
To: DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Hello to all other new members,

My name is Mike Kimball and I'm a dissertator in archaeology at the University
of Wisconsin.  I found out about the Darwin-l group -I think- because I'm part
of another group, Arch-L, specifically devoted to archaeological topics.

My research interests are diverse: my dissertation research is concerned with
the prehistoric transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture in Ireland
about 6000 years ago, part of a worldwide development beginning about 10,000
years ago, continuing to happen today and still influencing the nature of our
future (a good candidate for "palaetiological" study?); I'm also fascinated by
a the emerging field of "evolutionary psychology," which attempts to combine
findings of cognitive psychology with those of other disciplines such as
anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, etc. within a Darwinian
framework (in other words, they are trying to establish an evolutionary basis
for human behavior and cognition) -a bit of food for thought: evolutionary
psychologists argue that our pecularly human set of cognitive programs "evolved
in the Pleistocene to solve the adaptive problems regularly faced by our
hunter-gatherer ancestors ..." (The Adapted Mind, edited by J. Barkow, L.
Cosmedes and J. Tooby; Oxford University Press, 1992), thus, the human mind
evolved to cope with Pleistocene environmental and social conditions, not
modern (or Neolithic and later) conditions.  Comments?

Another interest of mine is the emerging science of Complexity Theory (for
those unfamiliar with this, try the very accessible "Complexity: Life at the
Edge of Chaos," by Roger Lewin; Macmillan Publ. 1992), the study of which
embodies all of the rewards and challenges of interdisciplinary pursuits.  I
would argue that the science of complexity is, by definition, an historical
science in that it attempts to describe and explain the dynamics inherent in
changing system states (any kind of system, e.g., cultural, economic,
electronic, ecological).  For those of us tantalized by the concept of
"emergent novelty," this stuff is compelling.

In the interest of keeping this intro brief, I'll add just one more dimension.
I think that the application of the analytical and representational
technologies available in Geographic Information Systems is a key to pushing
further the exploration of change.  I think that research into the definition
and representation of "cognitive landcapes," i.e., how the external world is
perceived by human beings (e.g., one can map a geographic region in economic,
political, social or ecological "space"), can lend unique insight into the
influences underlying cultural change.

O.k., that's all for now.  I'd like to hear any comments, criticisms, tangents,
on any of the above.  Thanks to the creators and users for making this list
possible!

Mike Kimball
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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