Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 421–434 | Cite as

Musicality and the evolution of mind, mimesis, and entrainment

Gary Tomlinson: A million years of music: the emergence of human modernity. Zone, New York, 2015
  • Anton Killin
Review Essay


In A Million Years of Music, Gary Tomlinson develops an extensive evolutionary narrative that emphasises several important components of human musicality and proposes a theory of the coalescence of these components. In this essay I tie some of Tomlinson’s ideas to five constraints on theories of music’s evolution. This provides the framework for organising my reconstruction of his model. Thereafter I focus on Tomlinson’s description of ‘entraining’ Acheulean toolmakers and offer several criticisms. I close with some tentative proposals for further theorising.


Evolution of music Musicality Entrainment Tool production Evolution of cognition 



Thanks to Gary Tomlinson, Kim Sterelny, members of the ANU Philosophy Program’s evolutionary theory reading group, and participants of the VUW Empirical Philosophy Workshop October 2015, for helpful comments and discussion.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Philosophy Programme, School of HumanitiesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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