Cecilia Heyes "Cognitive Gadgets": Author-Meets-Critics Symposium

Join Cecilia Heyes and the Centre for Philosophy of the Sciences for an author-meets-critics symposium on her new book Cognitive Gadgets: the Cultural Evolution of Thinking, from Harvard University Press.


9:30-10:00 Cecilia Heyes (Oxford University)

10:00-10:30 Morning tea

10:30-11:15 Andrew Buskell (University of Cambridge)

11:15-12:00 Rachael Brown (Australian National University)

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-1:45 Penny Van Bergen (Macquarie University)

1:45-2:30 Ron Planer (Australian National University)

2:30-3:00 Afternoon tea

3:00-3:45 Lachlan Wamsley + Cameron Turner (Australian National University)

3:45- 4:30 Author’s last word

6:00 dinner 


About Cognitive Gadgets:

“Cecilia Heyes presents a new hypothesis to explain the one feature that distinguishes Homo sapiens from all other species: the mind. Through lucid, compelling writing, this masterly exegesis proposes that the key features of the human mind, termed ‘cognitive gadgets,’ are the products of cultural rather than genetic evolution. It will stimulate its readers to think deeply, as Heyes has done, about what it means to be human.” – Lord John Krebs, University of Oxford


“Cognitive Gadgets is a book written with a strong conviction, boldly taking on deeply entrenched views on topics such as the genetic basis of language and imitation. It will be a very positive contribution to long-held debates about the nature of being human.” – Steven Mithen, author of The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body


“Cognitive Gadgets is a terrific book. Heyes makes a very surprising claim, arguing that human cognitive capacities—to understand others—are not built by natural selection, but are instead cultural adaptations, installed by social learning. It is a richly informed, beautifully clear, and lucidly argued case.” – Kim Sterelny, Australian National University


“How much of what is distinctly human depends on our biological (genetic) evolution and how much is culturally influenced or learned? This book will make you think about this old question anew and wonder if you have drawn the lines between these two kinds of inheritance in the right places.” – Mary Jane West-Eberhard, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Date & time

Wed 01 Aug 2018, 9:00am to 5:00pm


Band Room, Peter Karmel Bldg, Canberra, ACT.


Cecilia Heyes
Rachael Brown
Andrew Buskell
Penny Van Bergen
Ron Planer
Lachlan Wamsley + Cameron Turner

Event series


School of Philosophy


Updated:  26 July 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications