Re: panksepp and evolutionary psychology

From: justin corwin (
Date: Tue Jun 21 2005 - 13:10:57 MDT

On 6/21/05, Daniel Radetsky <> wrote:
> So I'm curious whether
> 1. sl4 folks are familiar with Panksepp, or have even heard of him; and

I am not familiar with Panksepp, but I am familiar with Maclean: "The
Triune Brain in Evolution", whom he credits with much of his opinion
regarding the scope of classic EP.

> 2. What significance they attach to his criticisms.

His criticisms don't appear to inpugn the honor of EP, nor to attempt
to refute it. It's clear that as a neuroscientist, he objects to the
often abstractly functional analysis of human psychology,(T&C, Pinker,
Fodor and friends).

He points out that the neurological environment includes many things
that could affect selection, particularly the 'source' of particular
modules, for example, he criticises the idea that Fear could have
undergone significant functional adaption during human evolution,
given it's relatively ancient source.

His primary objection appears to be an underrepresentation in
Evolutionary Psychology of the role of general capability that reacts
with specific capability and environment within the life of the
organism. This is an important perspective, but it's not a knockdown
argument against established EP theory, it's in fact, an argument for
more theory, in a sense.

I would expect him to be come more satisfied with EP as it progresses
in detail and begins to include neurological pressures, both in
simpler animals, and humans. He already notes some references that
have begun to do this, like Kravitz's work with lobsters.

In short, his 'criticism of EP', published, you'll note, in "Evolution
and Cognition", is more of a criticism of some interpretation, and the
state of the field, confirming in wide view, and disagreeing upon

Justin Corwin

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