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The Human Sentience Project
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We ask… What is so special about the way humans think?
The Human Sentience Project is interdisciplinary, addressing fundamental questions at the intersection of Science, Art, and Religion. Yet, it relies fully on the latest findings in the social and physical sciences, so our work changes as the findings in cognitive science, archaeology, and paleobiology change. Said another way, the Human Sentience Project asks "Questions at the Borderlines of Science, Art, and Religion."
The Human Sentience Project looks for answers, starting with a foundation in anthropology and moving through existing findings from archaeology, evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and both primate and human genomics. We frequently find interesting intersections with astronomy, astrobiology, philosophy, and theology.
In 2015 we published our first proposal for what we call Matrix Thinkingª, and how it may have helped our hominin ancestors survive. It is derived from the theoretical concepts of Enhanced Working Memory¹, the human Socio-Cognitive Niche and Deep Social Mind², and in a context of the Social Brain Hypothesis³. We look at the Actual Functions of modern man’s adaptations with a view toward their Proper Functions in early man‡.
A paper on our model of Matrix Thinking (click here) appeared in March 2015, as "Matrix Thinking: An Adaptation at the Foundation of Human Science, Religion, and Art," in Zygon 50(1):84-112.
The Human Sentience Project has some very practical goals.
- Development of new formats and innovative approaches for education of youth, adults, and the public, including, for example: dramatic and comedic skits, interpretive dialogues, video presentations, web-based materials, and workbooks. One of the latest formats we have used is the panoramic poster, showing a wide sweep of evolutionary processes behind our "Advanced Domains of Thought" (Science, Religion, and Art). Click here for a poster example.
- Public education on common questions about evolutionary science and religion, and how to reconcile existing conflicts in the minds of many. Public education on the commonalities of Science, Religion, and Art – the Advanced Domains of Thought for sentient beings on Earth.
- Public speaking, in order to generate good discussion among individuals from a wide variety of disciplines who share an interest in human sentience and its origins.
- Research and analysis of existing evidence for human sentience in the archaeological record, as well as evidence from laboratory testing in cognitive psychology, cognitive archaeology, and the cognitive study of religion.
- Introduction of Matrix Thinking in the above formats. Since Matrix Thinking in Science, Religion, and Art helped early hominins adjust to their changing environment, a better understanding of it will help us adjust to our changing world. The use of Matrix Thinking becomes a “Wellspring of New Knowledge for Our Coming Global Society.”
ª “Matrix Thinking” is also a term also used in management training by Roger LaSalle, who contrasts it with “linear thinking.” This is not the meaning we use, instead relying on a context of evolutionary biology, archaeology, and the cognitive sciences.
Click "Bibliography," to the left, for the following full citations.
¹ Wynn and Coolidge, 2011.
² Whiten and Erdal, 2012.
³ Dunbar, 2009; Stringer 2012.
‡ Fiddick and Barrett, 2001.