The Mind as a Swiss Army Knife : Assessing Arguments in Favor of the Massive Modularity Hypothesis


Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPosterpeer-review


Evolutionary psychologists have strong claims about the origin, architecture, and functioning of the mind. After getting rid of the Lockean metaphor of the mind as a tabula rasa or blank slate, they introduce a new one: the mind as a Swiss Army knife. They argue that human mind is “not a general-purpose computer but a collection of instincts adapted for solving evolutionarily significant problems - the mind as a Swiss Army knife” (Pinker, 1994, p. 420). This means that our behavior is produced by hundreds of innate domain-specific psychological mechanisms or “mental organs” (massive modularity hypothesis) that evolved during a period of time that is coextensive with the Pleistocene epoch. Furthermore, we are invited to think of the consequent mental architecture as the “universal human nature”. I would like to assess the main arguments advanced in favor of the Massive Modularity Hypothesis as well as the method (reverse engineering, functional analysis) used for identifying the hypothesized modules in the context of evolutionary psychology. This implies an evaluation of the feasibility of evolutionary psychology since the Massive Modularity Thesis is one of its mains theoretical tenets.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2019
EventThe Science of Consciousness 2019 - Congress Center, Interlaken, Switzerland
Duration: 25 Jun 201828 Jun 2019


ConferenceThe Science of Consciousness 2019
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'The Mind as a Swiss Army Knife : Assessing Arguments in Favor of the Massive Modularity Hypothesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this