Paleolithic Passions

Charles Foster attempts to live—and think—as humans did 40,000 years ago

A detail from the cave paintings of Lascaux (Wikimedia Commons)
A detail from the cave paintings of Lascaux (Wikimedia Commons)

Some time ago, the legal scholar, veterinary surgeon, and Homo sapiens Charles Foster spent a few weeks in the woods trying to live like a badger, a deer, a swift, an otter, and a fox, hoping to understand animal consciousness. That book, Being a Beast, now finds its unlikely sequel in Being a Human, in which Foster attempts the perhaps more difficult task of reconstructing the human consciousness of millennia ago. He settles on three pivotal turns in our history: the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, and, far more recently, the Enlightenment. How does one escape the constraints of modern thought—of written language, digital technology, creature comfort—in pursuit of the origins of modern consciousness? Foster joins the podcast to report on his quest in the woods of northern England, and beyond.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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