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Chris Aldrich

This is a really interesting and fundamental question which has some very deep roots in areas like cognitive neuropsychology, linguistics, neurobiology, etc. For a really good look into the origins of some of these topics I might recommend reading some Steven Pinker's popular science titles. (

Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind and some of his books include The Stuff of Thought, The Blank Slate, Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. Without getting overly technical, he takes a very close look at some the ideas you've brought up. (And of course if you want to get very technical, there is a very broad and deep area of journal articles and research in these areas.)

Psychologist and Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" (2011, Farrar, Straus & Giroux; also looks at some of the early psychological correlates to some of these questions and has something interesting to say about early collective learning and cooperation as well.