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Title: Minds in Prehistory : Conceptual Issues in the Archaeology and Evolution of Mind
Author: Samphire, Benjamin Robert.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3548 1738
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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Interest in questions about the minds of people in the past has come' to take centre stage, not just within the discipline of archaeology, but more widely. This thesis argues that, to date, attempts to fashion and practice an archaeology of mind have been fundamentally undermined, if not rendered entirely incoherent, by conceptual confusions regarding the phenomena of mind with which they are interested. Such confusions have led to mistakes of varying severity effecting both the identification of mental phenomena from the evidence of the archaeological record, and subsequent attempts to explain the presence and nature of such phenomena. Here, following the insights of Wittgenstein (1958a), it is argued that conceptual clarity is a necessary foundation for a successful empirical endeavour, and that sucn clarity can only be achieved by paying attention to the use words have in our language. In this light, the conceptual confusions present in, and negative implications resulting from, two of the central approaches (the cognitivist [e.g., Wynn 2002] and Iingualist [e.g., Noble and Davidson 1996]) to the archaeology of mind are explored. Arising from these two critiques are a number of positive conceptual points (inclUding that mind can only be identified by its content, and that such content can be attributed on the basis of both linguistic and non-linguistic behaviour) that go toward the development of a methodology that allows for the secure archaeological identification of mental phenomena in prehistory. The final part of the thesis applies this methodology to a particular area of archaeological interest (regarding the temporal content of past minds), finding that many existing attributions are, at least, underdetermined by the evidence adduced, but that certain temporal content is manifest in that very same evidence. The thesis concludes by outlining some of the prospects for, and limitations of, the archaeology of mind.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available