Nature                          volume  460, pages  190–196 (2009 )Cite this article                      Insights f

The possibility of impossible cultures

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Nature volume  460, pages 190–196 (2009 )Cite this article

Insights from evolutionary developmental biology and the mind sciences could change our understanding of the human capacity to think and the ways in which the human mind constrains cultural expressions.

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Dehaene, S. in From Monkey Brain to Human Brain (eds Dehaene, S., Duhamel, J.-R., Hauser, M. D. & Rizzolatti, G.) 133–157 (MIT Press, 2005).

Harman, G. in Proc. 20th World Congress Philosophy Vol. 1. (ed. Brinkmann, K.) 107–115 (Philosophy Documentation Center, 1999).

I dedicate this paper to Noam Chomsky and Peter Marler for their insights into the many problems discussed here, as well as their friendship and advice over several years. For support during the writing of this article, and for research funds, I thank Harvard University's Mind/Brain/ Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, J. Epstein, S. Shuman and the US National Science Foundation (Human & Social Dynamics priority area). For comments and discussion on drafts, I thank A. Abzhanov, A. Bejan, C. Boeckx, N. Chomsky, D. Dennett, B. Huebner, R. Jackendoff, N. Kanwisher, M. Kinsbourne, M. Kirschner, J. Junge, F. Lerdahl, G. McGhee, D. Roy, G. Striedter and F. Tsao.

Marc D. Hauser is in the Departments of Psychology, Human Evolutionary Biology, and Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.,

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