Zoon Politikon: The Evolution of Human Socio-Political Systems

Bibliographic Collection: 
CARTA-Inspired Publication
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Gintis, H; Van Schaik, C; Boehm, C
Year of Publication: 2019
Journal: Behavioural Processes
Volume: 161
Start Page: 17
Pagination: 17-30
Date Published: 04/2019
Publication Language: eng

We deploy the most up-to-date evidence available in various behavioral fields in support of the following hypothesis: The emergence of bipedalism and cooperative breeding in the hominin line, together with environmental developments that made a diet of meat from large animals adaptive, as well as cultural innovations in the form of fire, cooking, and lethal weapons, created a niche for hominins in which there was a significant advantage to individuals with the ability to communicate and persuade in a moral context. These forces added a unique political dimension to human social life which, through gene-culture coevolution, became Homo ludens—Man, the game player—with the power to conserve and transform the social order. Homo sapiens became, in the words of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, a zoon politikon.