This book is about patterns of development in the history of culture. Bringing together three areas of research: semiotics, cultural history, and evolutionary psychology, it attempts to bridge the gap that still separates the study of culture from the cognitive sciences.
The multidisciplinary approach chosen by the contributors derives its impetus from the deep conviction that in order to understand the logic of cultural development, one must take the building blocks of culture, that is, signs and language, as a starting point for research.
Central issues related to patterns of cultural evolution are dealt with in contributions on the development of mind and culture, the history of the media, the diversity of sign systems, culture and code, and the dynamics of semiosis. Theoretically oriented contributions alternate with in-depth case studies on such diverging topics as the evolution of language and art in prehistory, ritual as the fountainhead of indirect communication, developments in renaissance painting, the evolution of classification systems in chemistry, changing attitudes toward animal consciousness, and developments in computer technology.