Chomsky and Behavioral Modernity
I think it may have been in "When did recursion evolve Part 1" where you challenged why our brains would have evolved a capability like recursion 200-400kya that was just going to lie latent, apparently not providing any immediate evolutionary advantage. Right, biological evolution wouldn't do that. But culturally mediated sexual selection would have been a wild card. During the million year buildup of Cultural Evolution, any number of psychological traits may have been selected for, semi-independently of the impacts on evolutionary fitness they may have had in the lives of pre-cultural hominids.
I float the hypothesis that cultural evolutionary pressures did indeed select for the capabilities underlying behavioral modernity such as recursion, along with other traits. I picture how cultural prestige in Botswana 400kya would have accrued to those who demonstrated the ability to reliably cognate through the unexpected (a challenge which occurs a lot in a lineage like ours evolved to inhabit a socio-cognitive niche in the ecosystem).
I speculate that a few thousand generations of that pressure could have resulted in brains that had tremendous latent capabilities for things that had to do with the collective human mind of their tribe. Just waiting for memes of some future millennia to come along and excite them in this direction or that. Maybe the self-awareness meme spread like lightning round the world via cultural exchange 10-20kya because it found fertile ground in the brains it touched? It didn't have to wait for the wheels of culture-led gene-culture coevolution to grind along.
Wow this series of articles on recursion has been an exciting ride. Is there more, or is this terminus? I want to see what you can construe for how convergent biological evolution could have possibly occurred all over the globe, in a span of just 10-15k years, amongst so many geographically isolated populations? That's the conundrum that's always stopped me from letting myself believe, regardless of how well it answers the Sapient Paradox.
"Homo Sapiens outcompeted … " also each population might have been outcompeted for completely different reasons in different ocntexts , including Steven Bradbury's OF I've won— the 1,000 m event at the 2002 Winter Olympics after all of his opponents were involved in a last-corner pile-up
"Homo Sapiens outcompeted Denisovans, Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, Homo Florensis, Homo Longi, and Homo Luzonensis all at about the same time. If we all had the special sauce, why is there only one lineage standing? " to be clear there is a recursive confangulation here too — its the "hybrids" that outcompeted the "purebreds" -- possibly excluded southern Africa, but then there's that recent Okavango Delta maternal line stuff, and its the nurturing of children by a band of Homo ("making special" after Dissanyake) that world-builds culture in bodies walking forward and out of ... https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/cradle-of-modern-human-life-found-in-botswana-maybe — the "purebreds" here are also not really completely isolated populations of course, but compared to population with the "thing" that happened they are — —- processes of nurture leave little fossil evidence, all we have are the washed out ruins of a stone church built against the wooden church now rotting away, in which the whispered echos were sung — yep