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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cultural Evolution As Dialectic

By John Hartigan
Savage Minds
Originally posted April 21, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

A primary outcome is the recognition that culture “is an evolutionary player,” in the words of Kevin Laland. That is, culture drives and shapes so many aspects of evolution that it can destabilize reductivist assertions about human biology. The dialectic possibilities involve thinking about the key concept of phenotypic plasticity and how that vacillates along a continuum of fixity and fluidity, particularly as influenced by domestication (whether the version practiced by humans or not). And this gets back to a point the Fuentes stressed: “The mutual mutability of form and function in becoming human with other humans and nonhuman others is a central tenet in human evolution and should be recognized as a locus for the anthropological gaze …one where we can influence scientific practice in fields outside our own.” The way to challenge and change the way evolution operates in public discourse as an explanatory frame—see evolutionary psychology and economics—won’t improve until we fashion a more cultural account of how it operates.

The entire article is here.