Origin and Evolution of Homo: Reading Notes of Henri Van Lier’s “Anthropogenesis”

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2018, Vol. 4. №4

Origin and Evolution of Homo: Reading Notes of Henri Van Lier’s “Anthropogenesis”

For citation: Marillaud P. 2018. “Origin and Evolution of Homo: Reading Notes of Henri Van Lier’s ‘Anthropogenesis’”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 4, no 4, pp. 74-107. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2018-4-4-74-107

About the author:

Pierre Marillaud, Dr. of Linguistics, Inspector of the Honorary Academy, Associate Researcher of the Laboratory “Semiotics Mediation”, University Toulouse-Jean Jaurès (France); p.marillaud.cals@orange.fr


The author offers his review of “Anthropogenesis” by Henri Van Lier, a famous Belgian philosopher, cultural scientist, and anthropologist that was published posthumously in 2011. The merit of Henri Van Lier is that he, having employed the theory of variation and evolution, segmented the process of anthropogenesis on the basis of the transition of HOMO from horizontal to vertical lifestyle, which resulted in mathematization and semantization processes. The latter, according to Henri Van Lier, led to the emergence of language as a means of identifying and transmitting information. In his work, Henri Van Leer raised a number of questions on cultural genesis, which are still debatable, e. g., whether the language is just a human’s privilege, or has the “verticalization” led to a change in the information paradigm, or to what extend has the technological progress changed not only the structure of thinking but the structure of human brain. The major ideological focus of the book by Henri Van Lier is on the research dichotomy “creationism versus evolutionism”.

In postulating his theory, Henri Van Lier relied on such categories as being, topology of space and time, and semiotics, having proposed his own classification of signs. With the help of the systematization of “time, space, sign, existence”, he characterized epochs, peoples, individuals, everything that he incorporates into the semantics of HOMO. His ideas of a technical and semiotic body and the development of human thought from metaphysics to anthropogenesis underlie the construction of the book.


  1. Baetens J. 2010. “Avertissement”. In: Van Lier H. Anthropogénie. Paris-Bruxelles: Les impressions nouvelles. 
  2. Bergson H. 1963. “L’Evolution créatrice”. In: Oeuvres. Paris: PUF. 
  3. Chateau J.-Y. 2008. Le vocabulaire de Simondon. Paris: Ellipses. 
  4. Citati P. 2004. La Pensée chatoyante — Ulysse et l’Odyssée. Translated by B. Pérol. Paris: Gallimard.
  5. Coppens Y. 1999. Le genou de Lucy. Paris: Odile Jacob.
  6. Gachelin G. 2008. “Darwinisme et créationnisme: une convergence impossible”. In: La science au présent. Paris: Encyclopaedia Universalis.
  7. Harari Y. N. Sapiens. Translated by P.-E. Dauzat. Paris: Albin Michel.
  8. Hobbes T. 1999. Léviathan. Paris: Dalloz.
  9. Meyrueis J.-P. 2017. Héritages. In: La revue L’héritage, n° 36. Publication AKADEMOS. 
  10. Van Lier H. 2011. Anthropogénie. Paris-Bruxelles: Les impressions nouvelles.
  11. Wailly A. de 1824. Le Nouveau Vocabulaire Français, 12th édition.
  12. Zilberberg C. 2002. “Seuils, limites, valeurs”. In: Hénault A.  Questions de Sémiotique. Paris: PUF.