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Transcript of Culture II.
Why do we have culture at all?
What makes us capable of transmitting our culture?
Why is culture good for us?
What is the relationship between culture and genes?
The importance of ...
Dawkins and his memes
How did we go this far?
Culture as 'superorganism'
Explaining cultural differences with
What are memes?
How do we fall into culture?
hunting & gathering
metropolises & internet
the blink of an eye
No changes in the hardware (the brain)
Only in the software (culture & ideas)
The Victorian era
People's behavior needs to be understood in terms of their culture.
Culture is superorganic!
it exists as an
free from human influence.
the mind was shaped almost entirely by the culture
Tooby & Cosmides
'Standard Social Sciences Model' (SSSM)
from the SSSM school
Certain sex differences are universal!
I bet that I can counter that!
Well... can I?
Sex role differentiation
Proposing a set of
Good ideas tend to spread from culture to culture.
Tooby & Cosmides
Evoked vs. transmitted culture
Cultural practices might arise as a result of
life history theory of attachment
The results of
Dual inheritance theory
Boyd & Richerson
The mind (and thus behavior) is produced by two
modes of inheritance:
evolution is too slow
enables humans to
'evolve' much faster
Lumsden & Wilson
"The genes hold culture on a leash."
Innate learning capacities
make some cultural elements are easier to learn than others.
that occurs during development.
e.g. incest taboo
of culture that are
transmitted between individuals
these serve to
increase the inclusive fitness
of those who acquire them
The Selfish Gene
some cultural practices seem to have no obvious direct links to fitness (e.g. fashion or chastity)
None at all!
What benefits do these give to the individual?
unit of cultural inheritance
(see Lumsden & Wilson -
The relationship between memes and genes
Danial C. Dennett
genes are much more constrained than culture
genes can explain
aspects of culture, those that are the most directly linked to human inclusive fitness (e.g. incest taboos, sexual preferences, food choice)
other aspects of culture might better be explained by
interactions between memes.
Winthrop & Luella Kellogg
reared an infant chimpanzee (Gua) alongside their similar aged son Donald
Donald was much better in imitation
Gua was better in those tasks that required fine motoric skills (e.g. eating with spoon)
Theory of Mind (ToM)
with our conspecifics
representing mental states
inferring the intention
behind an action
essential for successful imitation
in emulation the
intention isn't as clear
, so the
method is imprecisely executed
Nagell, Olguin and Tomasello
Japanese Macaques washing potatoes
the new knowledge spreads very slowly, if it does at all
They are intimately entwined and co-dependent.
We won't find something attractive that would inhibit us to pass on our genes.