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Sep 16, 2020

Terrence W. Deacon is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. His research combines developmental evolutionary biology and comparative neuroanatomy to investigate the evolution of human cognition, and is particularly focused on the explanation of emergent processes in biology and cognition.

Dr. Deacon received a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from Harvard university in 1984. He taught at Harvard from 1984-1992, at Boston University from 1992-2002, and was a research associate at McLean Hospital and the Harvard Medical School from 1992-2000, before joining the University of California, Berkeley. His honors include being a Harvard Lehman Fellow, a Harvard Medical School Psychiatric Neuroscience Fellow, a Western Washington University Centenary Alumni Fellow, and the 69th James Arthur Lecturer for the American Museum of Natural History.

He has published over 100 research papers in collected volumes and scholarly journals, and his acclaimed book, The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain  (W. W. Norton & Co., 1997) was awarded the I. J. Stanley Prize for the most influential book in Anthropology in 2005 by the School of American Research. 

His 2012 book, Incomplete Nature: The Emergence of Mind from Matter, explores the problem of explaining the emergence of end-directed processes in nature, from biological functions to mental processes, and integrates many of his interests in complex biological systems.

In this interview we discuss his article titled, "The Emergent Process of Thinking as Reflected in Language Processing."