Broca and Darwin

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Chapter 8 endnote 26, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

Broca was inspired by Darwin’s claims in The Descent of Man that the human mind, like the human body, was sculpted by evolution.

In his book On the Origin of Species, Darwin stopped short of claiming that humans were part of the animal kingdom and like other animals were sculpted by natural selection. The quest to place humans squarely in the path of natural selection began in earnest somewhat after the publication of Origin and earlier than the publication of his next book, The Descent of Man. The English biologist Thomas H. Huxley (grandfather of write Aldous Huxley and Darwin’s staunch defender) took an old idea from Aristotle—scala naturae—and reworked it into a popular scientific principle by comparing the skeletons of humans and apes. Scala naturae is the idea that the world has a natural order from less to more advanced. In 1863, Huxley compared animal brains, from fish to humans, to show that animals were evolving to become progressively more advanced, with humans at the pinnacle (of course, where else would we be?). Scientists call this a “phylogenetic scale.”[1] The idea is that lurking within every human brain, Huxley implied, is an animalistic, emotional core.

The first explicit connection between language, brain localization, and Darwin was made by Frederick Bateman,[2] not Paul Broca, in 1877.[3] For reference, Broca's paper on the "great limbic lobe" was published in 1878.

See also


Notes on the Notes

  1. Huxley, Thomas Henry. 1863. Evidence as to Mans Place in Nature. Williams and Norgate.
  2. Bateman. Frederick. 1877. Darwinism as Tested by Language. Norwich: Rivington’s.
  3. Radick, Gregory. "Language, brain function, and human origins in the Victorian debates on evolution." 2000. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 31 (1): 55-75.