James Smith, M.A.

Black and white photo of Jones Center


James' current interdisciplinary research is focused on the nature of early human intelligence and the semantic cognition of paleolithic technology. His arguments fall under the paradigms of connectionism and dynamic systems theory (neurobiological and mathematical). He is focused on the philosophical problem of mental representations and the role they are commonly assumed to play in early Homo cognition; he alternatively argues for the roles that neuro-semantic and teleosemantic representations play in that respect on the assumptions of physical closure of causality and natural ontological emergence. The philosophical approach to this cognitive archaeological investigation is supposed to be consistent with the scientific foundations of biological anthropology. 

James reads widely in the history of philosophy and the history of science and finds valuable insight in old ideas--e.g., Aristotle's teleology, "Ockham's razor," and Galileo's mathematical "Book of Nature." Another interdisciplinary line of research James is pursuing concerns the anthropological phenomenon and ancient philosophical idea of cosmopolitanism and its possible appearance in certain prehistoric societies. Finally, James has extensive experience in lower-division mathematics instruction and has given several talks on topics in medieval intellectual history and the history of science.

Research interests

  • History of Philosophy (especially Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance)
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science
  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Cognitive Archaeology
  • Paleoanthropology

Courses taught

  • PHIL 131 - Introduction to Metaphysics
  • PHIL 135 - Introduction to Ethics
  • PHIL 207 - Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 211 - Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
  • PHIL 212 - Introduction to Medieval Philosophy
  • PHIL 224 - Introduction to Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL 244 - Bioethics
  • PHIL 245 - Contemporary Moral Issues
  • PHIL 450 - Ethical Theory
  • MATH 95 - Elementary Algebra
  • MATH 96 - Intermediate Algebra
  • MATH 19/20/119 - College Mathematics
  • MATH 126/127/128 - Precalculus I & II
  • MATH 181/182 - Calculus I & II
  • MATH 299 - Special Topics
  • STAT 152 - Introduction to Statistics


  • “The Classical Background to Early Anthropological Theory and Practice: A Synthesis of Varto (2018) and Pogliano (2020)” (in progress) 
  • “Toward a History of Philosophical Anthropology”: A Review of Carroll (2018)” History of Anthropology Review, 47 (2023).
  • Social DNA: Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past, by M. Kay Martin Berghahn (2020).Journal of Paleoanthropology, Volume 2022.
  • Big Brains and the Human Superorganism: Why Special Brains Appear in Hominids and other Social Animals, by Niccolo Leo Caladaro. Rowman and Littlefield (2017)
  • Journal of Paleoanthropology, Volume 2021.
  • Humans vs. Nature: A Global Environmental History, by Daniel Headrick Oxford University Press (2020) World History Bulletin, 2021 Vol. XXXVII, Number 1, pp. 4-5.
  • Logica or Summa Lamberti, by Lambert of Auxerre. Translated by Thomas S. Maloney University of Notre Dame Press (2015) Comitatus 47, September 2016.


  • Ph.D. in progress, Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno
  • M.A. History, University of Nevada, Reno
  • M.S. Mathematics, University of Nevada, Reno
  • M.A. Philosophy, Virginia Tech
  • B.S. Philosophy, University of Utah
  • B.S. Anthropology, University of Utah