Episodic-to-Mimetic Transition

  • Charles Cole


At a certain point in human evolutionary development, our Homo erectus prehuman ancestors transitioned from an episode-based consciousness, described in the last two chapters on Episode Mind, to a mimetic-based consciousness that Donald calls the Mimetic Mind (Fig. 6.1). With its new way of thinking about the world and our place in it, the Mimetic Mind produced a radically different culture or society with a heightened emphasis on communication within the group. The transition took a slow, evolutionary pace, beginning roughly 1.8 million years ago and ending, 40,000–60,000 years ago with the emergence of cognitively modern humans. At its fully developed form at the end of the transition, the Mimetic Mind had changed human culture, the way humans organized their living, creating large and complex social groups with “collectively invented and maintained customs, games, skills, and representations … cultural innovation and new forms of social control” (Donald, 1991, p. 173).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Cole
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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