The concept of a ‘human nature’ or ‘human natures’ retains a central role in theorizing about the human experience. In Homo sapiens it is clear that we have a suite of capacities generated via our evolutionary past, and present, and a flexible capacity to create and sustain particular kinds of cultures and to be shaped by them. Regardless of whether we label these capacities ‘human natures’ or not, humans occupy a distinctive niche and an evolutionary approach to examining it is critical. At present we are faced with a few different narratives as to exactly what such an evolutionary approach entails. There is a need for a robust and dynamic theoretical toolkit in order to develop a richer, and more nuanced, understanding of the cognitively sophisticated genus Homo and the diverse sorts of niches humans constructed and occupied across the Pleistocene, Holocene, and into the Anthropocene. Here I review current evolutionary approaches to ‘human nature’, arguing that we benefit from re-framing our investigations via the concept of the human niche and in the context of the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES). While not a replacement of standard evolutionary approaches, this is an expansion and enhancement of our toolkit. I offer brief examples from human evolution in support of these assertions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Extended evolutionary synthesis
- Homo sapiens
- Human nature(s)
- Stone tools