Paleolithic art and cognition
Journal of Psychology 126. 3 (May, 1992): 221 (16 pages)
In this article, I have explored some of the possible relationships between
the first appearance of representational art in human history and the
early development of human cognition. I argue that most Upper Paleolithic
depictions directly represent generalized mental images of their animal
subjects rather than percepts or recollected scenes from life and that
these images, in turn, are representations of concepts at the basic level
of categorization. A common feature of Paleolithic art forms is the salience
of parts, and the treatment of parts indicates analytic and synthetic
(recombinative) abilities. There are some indications of superordinate
categorization. An expansion of conceptual thinking seems to be implied
as well as the beginnings of operational thought. The presence and practice
of depiction may have had the effect of bringing concepts into consciousness
and thus inducing reflection in at least a partially abstract mode.
© Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation 1992.