Jean-Louis Dessalles (School of Telecom, ParisTech)

Oct. 12, 2012 Seminar.
Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) group / Global Brain Institute.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Human beings devote some two hours each day on average to reporting events, through conversational narratives. This behaviour is unique in the animal kingdom. Simplicity Theory offers a formal characterization of what makes an event narratable. Interesting events (exceptions, deviations from norms, coincidences, rarities, emotional situations...) all share the property of offering abnormal order: they are less complex than anticipated. Complexity drop (simplicity) seems to be a key determining factor, not only of interest, but also of aesthetics and of emotional intensity. Why did human beings evolve a sense of simplicity?

Dessalles, J-L. (2008). La pertinence et ses origines cognitives - Nouvelles théories.
Paris: Hermes-Science Publications.
Dessalles, J-L. (2009). Why we talk - The evolutionary origins of language (2nd edition).
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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