Neuroscience and the Dialectics of History

By all accounts, the emergence of global capitalism in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries marked a crucial transformation in the human relationship with consumer goods. Our relationship with goods, however, is far older. Goods were present at the making of humanity itself early in the Pleistocene, and over the ensuing millennia they became caught up in our cultures, our patterns of communication, and even our nervous systems. Drawing on insights from neuroscience and evolutionary biology, this paper sketches out a deep history of the coevolutionary relationship between people and material culture.

Presented by Dan Small, Harvard University on Nov. 9, 2012 at the Center for Historical Research at The Ohio State University Department of History.


The Ohio State University Center for Historical Research in the Department of History provides a stimulating intellectual environment for studying important historical issues around the world. Each year the Center brings together scholars from various disciplines to examine issues of broad contemporary relevance in historical perspective.