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The development of the human mind

In this video, Mark Solms talks about how the development of our prefrontal lobes is directly related to how much agency we have as humans.

Not all beings have the same amount of agency. Our prefrontal lobes differentiate us from our closest relatives, the other primates, and this part of the brain enables us to think ahead and imagine scenarios that haven’t happened.

The difference between our prefrontal lobes and those of other primates evolved as recently as 200 000 years ago. Just 12 000 years ago, our prefrontal lobes enabled us to make a breakthrough of fundamental importance – the establishment of permanent human settlements made possible by agricultural knowledge and animal husbandry. With large groups of people living in close proximity, our prefrontal lobes then enabled us to think up and write laws and rules to govern civilised human behaviour. Yet, please note, we don’t always live according to these laws.

We humans are uniquely hypocritical. The development of our prefrontal lobes – agency – is very recent compared to the development of our instinctual systems. And so perhaps we don’t have as much free will as we think we have. And free will comes at a cost – our motivations are not transparent to us.

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What is a Mind?

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