An intriguing stab at the evolutionary origins of self-control.
The limited archaeological record of ancient human and pre-human history makes it difficult to answer questions in detail. One such is when and how self-control evolved. It is an important question since advanced self-control is one of the key factors differentiating us from all other animals. In this paper, the authors reverse engineer the answer. They first ask what are the main ingredients of self-control? They then consider how each of these would have contributed to the successful manufacture of sophisticated hand axes by hominins of some 500,000 years ago. They find a good match between the two. Whilst a little circular, it seems to mark an interesting point on a lengthy journey towards modern mankind’s relatively high levels of self-discipline.
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