Updated 5 March 2015
Paper to be given a conference at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland, 10-12 June 2015. Steve Farmer, Talking with the Gods: Neurobiology, Auditory-Visual Hallucinations, and the Evolution of Premodern Myths, Religions, and Philosophies. (Click for Long Abstract.)
Invited Lecture, University of Miami at Ohio, 21 November 2014. Steve Farmer, Brains, Networks, and the Eolution of Human Thought.
Paper given at the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia, 25 May 2014. Steve Farmer, Brain Research and Global Mythologies: The Case of Hero, Dragon, and Monster Myths. (Click for Abstract.)
Invited Lecture at Columbia University, 25 September 2012. Steve Farmer, Neurobiology and Manuscript Cultures: The Evolution of Premodern Religious and Cosmological Systems. (Click for Abstract.)
Lecture at the University of Strasbourg, France, 9 October 2011. Steve Farmer, Twisted Tales: Spurious Claims of Postural Yoga in Ancient India. (Click for long abstract.) Mainly fictional accounts of the origins of yoga are used in the paper to discuss common problems in studies of comparative mythology in general and premodern India in particular.
Lecture at Harvard University, 8 October 2010. Steve Farmer and Michael Witzel, Indus Valley Fantasies: Political Mythologies, Academic Careerism, and the Poverty of Indus Studies. (Click for long abstract.) The title "Indus Valley Fantasies" is reserved for a book on distortions of ancient history promoted by right-wing Indian nationalists and Western archaeologists and Indologists too meek to challenge them. That failure is not innocuous, given the uses these distortions serve in supporting reactionary social structures in India that affect hundreds of millions of so-called Dalits or "untouchables," etc.
Overview of materials below. Data are found below on theoretical issues in studies of the evolution of thought as well as on the so-called "Indus script" issue - which was certainly not a writing system as linguists use those terms (on claims by Rao et al. that defend older views, see studies below). A popular article on the global controversy on this triggered by a paper Richard Sproat, Michael Witzel, and I wrote in 2004 (Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel, Collapse of the Indus-Script Thesis), appeared in the March-April 2010 edition of Archaeology magazine.
You'll also find data below on the Cultural Modeling Research Group, a
network of researchers in cultural history, philology, computational
linguistics, and related fields founded in 2008 by me, Richard Sproat,
Michael Witzel, and the physicist Bill Zaumen. Part of our work
involves new simulation software applicable to modeling
evolution in general. For an overview of our work, beyond the materials
below, see the abstract of a comprehensive paper we are currently
writing: S Farmer, W Zaumen, R Sproat, J Henderson, B Farmer, and M
Witzel, Simulating the Past and Predicting the Future:
Brain-Culture Networks and the Evolution of Thought.
The paper deals with how brain-culture networks have been transformed
by demographic forces and innovations in communications from the first
extensive appearance of external symbols ca. 50,000 years ago through
the present information revolution. The paper includes a number of
illustrative simulations built with our new cultural modeling software.
Link to the Indo-Eurasian_Research List, moderated by Steve Farmer (comparative history, cultural neurobiology), Michael Witzel (Harvard: Indology, comparative mythology, linguistics), Lars Martin Fosse (Oslo: Indology, linguistics), and Benjamin Fleming (University of Pennsylvania: Indology, comparative religion). The List focuses on premodern studies globally. Core members are located in South Asia, Iran, China, Russia, Eastern and Western Europe, Australia, Japan, and the United States. The List is mainly aimed at professional researchers, but lurkers are welcome.
Book-in-progress: Brains and history: The evolution of thought. Integrates neurobiology with evolutionary studies of major world religious and philosophical traditions; contains further descriptions of our computer simulations.
Link to book description and PDF extracts, Syncretism in the West: Pico's 900 theses (1486). My 1998 book on Pico's strange Roman debate -- his Latin text promises discussion of various methods leading to the discovery "of everything knowable" (de omni re scibili) -- was meant as a "laboratory" to study how premodern religious, philosophical, and cosmological systems evolved in textual traditions world-wide. The origins of much of the broader model of brain and cultural interactions I develop in later studies can be traced to this philological "laboratory." See here, e.g., the text and notes in that book's Theoretical conclusions, pp. 91-6.
Top article downloads (see also the papers in the further links above):
- Steve Farmer, The neurobiological origins of primitive religion: Implications for comparative mythology (preprint). Just appeared in October 2010 in New Perspectives on Myth (Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Conference of the International Association of Comparative Mythology, Ravenstein, The Netherlands.) Introduces the first