The enigmatic “Venus” figurines of Upper Palaeolithic Europe

Female carvings are known throughout the European Upper Palaeolithic and are collectively known as Venus figurines, though they predate the Roman goddess by tens of millennia. They are chiefly associated with the Gravettian period, though they are also known from the preceding Aurignacian. The earliest currently known is the 35,000 year old Hohle Fels Venus, a mammoth-ivory figurine recovered in 2008 at Fohle Fels Cave in the Swabian Jura of south-western Germany.

Typically lozenge-shaped, these figurines are characterised by exaggerated sexual characteristics, with very large breasts, accentuated hips, thighs and buttocks, and large, explicit vulvas. Continue reading

Helme’s Man

The Florisbad skull

Homo helmei is one of many human species that has failed to gain widespread recognition. Textbooks tend to either mention it only in passing, or not at all. The species was assigned to the single partial skull which was recovered in 1932 by Professor T.F. Dreyer from the depths of the hot spring at Florisbad, some 50 km (30 miles) from Bloemfontein, South Africa. Continue reading

The Modularity of Mind (1983), by Jerry Fodor

Modularity of MindTheories about the functional architecture of the human mind have fallen into a number of types.

Cartesian dualism is derived from the thinking of Rene Descartes, who believed that the brain is merely the seat of the mind. The latter was seen as a disembodied non-material entity, interacting with the former via the pineal gland, now known to be a small endocrinal gland linked to sexual development. However, most current theories seek to explain the mind in purely material terms. Historically these theories divided into two types, horizontal and vertical.
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