Darwin's Unfinished Symphony

How Culture Made the Human Mind

Author: Kevin N. Laland

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 069118447X

Category: Science

Page: 450

View: 2530

Humans possess an extraordinary capacity for culture, from the arts and language to science and technology. But how did the human mind—and the uniquely human ability to devise and transmit culture—evolve from its roots in animal behavior? Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony presents a captivating new theory of human cognitive evolution. This compelling and accessible book reveals how culture is not just the magnificent end product of an evolutionary process that produced a species unlike all others—it is also the key driving force behind that process. Kevin Laland tells the story of the painstaking fieldwork, the key experiments, the false leads, and the stunning scientific breakthroughs that led to this new understanding of how culture transformed human evolution. It is the story of how Darwin’s intellectual descendants picked up where he left off and took up the challenge of providing a scientific account of the evolution of the human mind.
Posted in Science

Darwin's Unfinished Symphony

How Culture Made the Human Mind

Author: Kevin N. Laland

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780691182810

Category: Psychology

Page: 464

View: 7345

Humans possess an extraordinary capacity for culture, from the arts and language to science and technology. But how did the human mind--and the uniquely human ability to devise and transmit culture--evolve from its roots in animal behavior? Darwin's Unfinished Symphony presents a captivating new theory of human cognitive evolution. This compelling and accessible book reveals how culture is not just the magnificent end product of an evolutionary process that produced a species unlike all others--it is also the key driving force behind that process. Kevin Laland tells the story of the painstaking fieldwork, the key experiments, the false leads, and the stunning scientific breakthroughs that led to this new understanding of how culture transformed human evolution. It is the story of how Darwin's intellectual descendants picked up where he left off and took up the challenge of providing a scientific account of the evolution of the human mind.
Posted in Psychology

Evolution of Culture

Author: Kevin N. Laland

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780691151182

Category:

Page: 480

View: 6645

Humans possess an extraordinary capacity for cultural production, from the arts and language to science and technology. How did the human mind--and the uniquely human ability to devise and transmit culture--evolve from its roots in animal behavior? Darwin's Unfinished Symphony presents a captivating new theory of human cognitive evolution. This compelling and accessible book reveals how culture is not just the magnificent end product of an evolutionary process that produced a species unlike all others--it is also the key driving force behind that process. Kevin Laland shows how the learned and socially transmitted activities of our ancestors shaped our intellects through accelerating cycles of evolutionary feedback. The truly unique characteristics of our species--such as our intelligence, language, teaching, and cooperation--are not adaptive responses to predators, disease, or other external conditions. Rather, humans are creatures of their own making. Drawing on his own groundbreaking research, and bringing it to life with vivid natural history, Laland explains how animals imitate, innovate, and have remarkable traditions of their own. He traces our rise from scavenger apes in prehistory to modern humans able to design iPhones, dance the tango, and send astronauts into space. This book tells the story of the painstaking fieldwork, the key experiments, the false leads, and the stunning scientific breakthroughs that led to this new understanding of how culture transformed human evolution. It is the story of how Darwin's intellectual descendants picked up where he left off and took up the challenge of providing a scientific account of the evolution of the human mind.
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Not By Genes Alone

How Culture Transformed Human Evolution

Author: Peter J. Richerson,Robert Boyd

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226712130

Category: Social Science

Page: 342

View: 7289

Humans are a striking anomaly in the natural world. While we are similar to other mammals in many ways, our behavior sets us apart. Our unparalleled ability to adapt has allowed us to occupy virtually every habitat on earth using an incredible variety of tools and subsistence techniques. Our societies are larger, more complex, and more cooperative than any other mammal's. In this stunning exploration of human adaptation, Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd argue that only a Darwinian theory of cultural evolution can explain these unique characteristics. Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution, arguing that our ecological dominance and our singular social systems stem from a psychology uniquely adapted to create complex culture. Richerson and Boyd illustrate here that culture is neither superorganic nor the handmaiden of the genes. Rather, it is essential to human adaptation, as much a part of human biology as bipedal locomotion. Drawing on work in the fields of anthropology, political science, sociology, and economics—and building their case with such fascinating examples as kayaks, corporations, clever knots, and yams that require twelve men to carry them—Richerson and Boyd convincingly demonstrate that culture and biology are inextricably linked, and they show us how to think about their interaction in a way that yields a richer understanding of human nature. In abandoning the nature-versus-nurture debate as fundamentally misconceived, Not by Genes Alone is a truly original and groundbreaking theory of the role of culture in evolution and a book to be reckoned with for generations to come. “I continue to be surprised by the number of educated people (many of them biologists) who think that offering explanations for human behavior in terms of culture somehow disproves the suggestion that human behavior can be explained in Darwinian evolutionary terms. Fortunately, we now have a book to which they may be directed for enlightenment . . . . It is a book full of good sense and the kinds of intellectual rigor and clarity of writing that we have come to expect from the Boyd/Richerson stable.”—Robin Dunbar, Nature “Not by Genes Alone is a valuable and very readable synthesis of a still embryonic but very important subject straddling the sciences and humanities.”—E. O. Wilson, Harvard University
Posted in Social Science

Sense and Nonsense

Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour

Author: Kevin N. Laland,Gillian Brown,Gillian R. Brown

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199586969

Category: Medical

Page: 270

View: 8030

This book asks whether evolution can help us to understand human behaviour and explores diverse evolutionary methods and arguments. It provides a short, readable introduction to the science behind the works of Dawkins, Dennett, Wilson and Pinker. It is widely used in undergraduate courses around the world.
Posted in Medical

Social Learning

An Introduction to Mechanisms, Methods, and Models

Author: William Hoppitt,Kevin N. Laland

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 1400846501

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 7385

Many animals, including humans, acquire valuable skills and knowledge by copying others. Scientists refer to this as social learning. It is one of the most exciting and rapidly developing areas of behavioral research and sits at the interface of many academic disciplines, including biology, experimental psychology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience. Social Learning provides a comprehensive, practical guide to the research methods of this important emerging field. William Hoppitt and Kevin Laland define the mechanisms thought to underlie social learning and demonstrate how to distinguish them experimentally in the laboratory. They present techniques for detecting and quantifying social learning in nature, including statistical modeling of the spatial distribution of behavior traits. They also describe the latest theory and empirical findings on social learning strategies, and introduce readers to mathematical methods and models used in the study of cultural evolution. This book is an indispensable tool for researchers and an essential primer for students. Provides a comprehensive, practical guide to social learning research Combines theoretical and empirical approaches Describes techniques for the laboratory and the field Covers social learning mechanisms and strategies, statistical modeling techniques for field data, mathematical modeling of cultural evolution, and more
Posted in Science

Cultural Transmission and Evolution

A Quantitative Approach

Author: Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza,Marcus W. Feldman

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9780691082837

Category: Science

Page: 388

View: 896

A number of scholars have found that concepts such as mutation, selection, and random drift, which emerged from the theory of biological evolution, may also explain evolutionary phenomena in other disciplines as well. Drawing on these concepts, Professors Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman classify and systematize the various modes of transmitting "culture" and explore their consequences for cultural evolution. In the process, they develop a mathematical theory of the non-genetic transmission of cultural traits that provides a framework for future investigations in quantitative social and anthropological science. The authors use quantitative models that incorporate the various modes of transmission (for example, parent-child, peer-peer, and teacher-student), and evaluate data from sociology, archaeology, and epidemiology in terms of the models. They show that the various modes of transmission in conjunction with cultural and natural selection produce various rates of cultural evolution and various degrees of diversity within and between groups. The same framework can be used for explaining phenomena as apparently unrelated as linguistics, epidemics, social values and customs, and diffusion of innovations. The authors conclude that cultural transmission is an essential factor in the study of cultural change.
Posted in Science

Culture and the Evolutionary Process

Author: Robert Boyd,Peter J. Richerson

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226069333

Category: Science

Page: 331

View: 5013

How do biological, psychological, sociological, and cultural factors combine to change societies over the long run? Boyd and Richerson explore how genetic and cultural factors interact, under the influence of evolutionary forces, to produce the diversity we see in human cultures. Using methods developed by population biologists, they propose a theory of cultural evolution that is an original and fair-minded alternative to the sociobiology debate.
Posted in Science

Niche Construction

The Neglected Process in Evolution (MPB-37)

Author: F. John Odling-Smee,Kevin N. Laland,Marcus W. Feldman

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 1400847265

Category: Science

Page: 488

View: 9916

The seemingly innocent observation that the activities of organisms bring about changes in environments is so obvious that it seems an unlikely focus for a new line of thinking about evolution. Yet niche construction--as this process of organism-driven environmental modification is known--has hidden complexities. By transforming biotic and abiotic sources of natural selection in external environments, niche construction generates feedback in evolution on a scale hitherto underestimated--and in a manner that transforms the evolutionary dynamic. It also plays a critical role in ecology, supporting ecosystem engineering and influencing the flow of energy and nutrients through ecosystems. Despite this, niche construction has been given short shrift in theoretical biology, in part because it cannot be fully understood within the framework of standard evolutionary theory. Wedding evolution and ecology, this book extends evolutionary theory by formally including niche construction and ecological inheritance as additional evolutionary processes. The authors support their historic move with empirical data, theoretical population genetics, and conceptual models. They also describe new research methods capable of testing the theory. They demonstrate how their theory can resolve long-standing problems in ecology, particularly by advancing the sorely needed synthesis of ecology and evolution, and how it offers an evolutionary basis for the human sciences. Already hailed as a pioneering work by some of the world's most influential biologists, this is a rare, potentially field-changing contribution to the biological sciences.
Posted in Science

The Shape of Thought

How Mental Adaptations Evolve

Author: H. Clark Barrett

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0199348316

Category: Psychology

Page: 352

View: 8649

'The Shape of Thought' presents a road map for an evolutionary psychology of the twenty-first century. It shows how the brain can be both a complexly specialized organ and a dynamic and flexible self-organizing system, shaped by learning and culture.
Posted in Psychology

A Different Kind of Animal

How Culture Transformed Our Species

Author: Robert Boyd

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780691177731

Category: Psychology

Page: 229

View: 6521

Not by brains alone: the vital role of culture in human adaptation -- Beyond kith and kin: culture and the scale of human cooperation -- Comments -- Imitation, Hayek, and the significance of cultural learning / H. Allen Orr -- Adaptation without insight? / Kim Sterelny -- Inference and hypothesis testing in cultural evolution / Ruth Mace -- Adaptable, cooperative, manipulative, and rivalrous -- Response: Robert Boyd's reply to the commentators
Posted in Psychology

The Evolution of Human Co-operation

Author: Charles Stanish

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1107180554

Category: Mathematics

Page: 352

View: 2907

How do people living in small groups without money, markets, police and rigid social classes develop norms of economic and social cooperation that are sustainable over time? This book addresses this fundamental question and explains the origin, structure and spread of stateless societies. Using insights from game theory, ethnography and archaeology, Stanish shows how ritual - broadly defined - is the key. Ritual practices encode elaborate rules of behavior and are ingenious mechanisms of organizing society in the absence of coercive states. As well as asking why and how people choose to co-operate, Stanish also provides the theoretical framework to understand this collective action problem. He goes on to highlight the evolution of cooperation with ethnographic and archaeological data from around of the world. Merging evolutionary game theory concepts with cultural evolutionary theory, this book will appeal to those seeking a transdisciplinary approach to one of the greatest problems in human evolution.
Posted in Mathematics

Cultural Evolution

How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences

Author: Alex Mesoudi

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226520455

Category: Political Science

Page: 280

View: 2354

Charles Darwin changed the course of scientific thinking by showing how evolution accounts for the stunning diversity and biological complexity of life on earth. Recently, there has also been increased interest in the social sciences in how Darwinian theory can explain human culture. Covering a wide range of topics, including fads, public policy, the spread of religion, and herd behavior in markets, Alex Mesoudi shows that human culture is itself an evolutionary process that exhibits the key Darwinian mechanisms of variation, competition, and inheritance. This cross-disciplinary volume focuses on the ways cultural phenomena can be studied scientifically—from theoretical modeling to lab experiments, archaeological fieldwork to ethnographic studies—and shows how apparently disparate methods can complement one another to the mutual benefit of the various social science disciplines. Along the way, the book reveals how new insights arise from looking at culture from an evolutionary angle. Cultural Evolution provides a thought-provoking argument that Darwinian evolutionary theory can both unify different branches of inquiry and enhance understanding of human behavior.
Posted in Political Science

Evolution’s Eye

A Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide

Author: Susan Oyama

Publisher: Duke University Press

ISBN: 9780822324720

Category: Psychology

Page: 274

View: 7052

DIVCollection of essays by Susan Oyama looking at the implications of developmental systems approach for evolutionary theory, specifically for nature-nurture oppositions, ideas of essential human nature, and the limits of human agency and possibility./div
Posted in Psychology

Cooperation and Its Evolution

Author: Kim Sterelny,Richard Joyce,Brett Calcott,Ben Fraser

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262018535

Category: Science

Page: 577

View: 3092

Essays from a range of disciplinary perspectives show the central role that cooperation plays in structuring our world. This collection reports on the latest research on an increasingly pivotal issue for evolutionary biology: cooperation. The chapters are written from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and utilize research tools that range from empirical survey to conceptual modeling, reflecting the rich diversity of work in the field. They explore a wide taxonomic range, concentrating on bacteria, social insects, and, especially, humans. Part I ("Agents and Environments") investigates the connections of social cooperation in social organizations to the conditions that make cooperation profitable and stable, focusing on the interactions of agent, population, and environment. Part II ("Agents and Mechanisms") focuses on how proximate mechanisms emerge and operate in the evolutionary process and how they shape evolutionary trajectories. Throughout the book, certain themes emerge that demonstrate the ubiquity of questions regarding cooperation in evolutionary biology: the generation and division of the profits of cooperation; transitions in individuality; levels of selection, from gene to organism; and the "human cooperation explosion" that makes our own social behavior particularly puzzling from an evolutionary perspective.
Posted in Science

From Groups to Individuals

Evolution and Emerging Individuality

Author: Frédéric Bouchard,Philippe Huneman

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262313456

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 786

Our intuitive assumption that only organisms are the real individuals in the natural world is at odds with developments in cell biology, ecology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and other fields. Although organisms have served for centuries as nature's paradigmatic individuals, science suggests that organisms are only one of the many ways in which the natural world could be organized. When living beings work together -- as in ant colonies, beehives, and bacteria-metazoan symbiosis -- new collective individuals can emerge. In this book, leading scholars consider the biological and philosophical implications of the emergence of these new collective individuals from associations of living beings. The topics they consider range from metaphysical issues to biological research on natural selection, sociobiology, and symbiosis. The contributors investigate individuality and its relationship to evolution and the specific concept of organism; the tension between group evolution and individual adaptation; and the structure of collective individuals and the extent to which they can be defined by the same concept of individuality. These new perspectives on evolved individuality should trigger important revisions to both philosophical and biological conceptions of the individual. Contributors:Frédéric Bouchard, Ellen Clarke, Jennifer Fewell, Andrew Gardner, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Charles J. Goodnight, Matt Haber, Andrew Hamilton, Philippe Huneman, Samir Okasha, Thomas Pradeu, Scott Turner, Minus van Baalen
Posted in Science

Buckets from an English Sea

1832 and the Making of Charles Darwin

Author: Louis B. Rosenblatt

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0190654406

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 224

View: 8540

Darwin did not discover evolution. He didn't trip over it on the way to somewhere else the way Columbus discovered the New World. Like the atom, planetary orbits, and so many other scientific constructs, evolution was invented in order to explain striking phenomena. And it has been most successful. A century and a half has not simply confirmed Darwin's work, it has linked evolution to the mechanisms of life on the molecular scale. It is what life does. Where Darwin had drawn his theories from forest and field, we now set them in the coiling and uncoiling of twists of DNA, linking where they might, with a host of molecular bits and pieces scurrying about. Darwin, himself, however, has been a closed story. A century and a half of study of the man and his work, including close readings of his books, his notebooks and letters, and even the books he read, has led to a working appreciation of his genius. The 'success' of this account has, however, kept us from seeing several important issues: most notably, why did he pursue evolution in the first place? Buckets from an English Sea offers a new view of what inspired Darwin and provoked his work. Stunning events early in the voyage of the Beagle challenged his deeply held conviction that people are innately good. This study of 1832 highlights the resources available to the young Darwin as he worked to secure humanity's innate goodness.
Posted in Biography & Autobiography

The Encultured Brain

An Introduction to Neuroanthropology

Author: Daniel H. Lende,Greg Downey

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262304740

Category: Medical

Page: 448

View: 4592

The brain and the nervous system are our most cultural organs. Our nervous system is especially immature at birth, our brain disproportionately small in relation to its adult size and open to cultural sculpting at multiple levels. Recognizing this, the new field of neuroanthropology places the brain at the center of discussions about human nature and culture. Anthropology offers brain science more robust accounts of enculturation to explain observable difference in brain function; neuroscience offers anthropology evidence of neuroplasticity's role in social and cultural dynamics. This book provides a foundational text for neuroanthropology, offering basic concepts and case studies at the intersection of brain and culture. After an overview of the field and background information on recent research in biology, a series of case studies demonstrate neuroanthropology in practice. Contributors first focus on capabilities and skills -- including memory in medical practice, skill acquisition in martial arts, and the role of humor in coping with breast cancer treatment and recovery -- then report on problems and pathologies that range from post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans to smoking as a part of college social life. ContributorsMauro C. Balieiro, Kathryn Bouskill, Rachel S. Brezis, Benjamin Campbell, Greg Downey, José Ernesto dos Santos, William W. Dressler, Erin P. Finley, Agustín Fuentes, M. Cameron Hay, Daniel H. Lende, Katherine C. MacKinnon, Katja Pettinen, Peter G. Stromberg
Posted in Medical

Cultural Evolution

Conceptual Challenges

Author: Tim Lewens

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0199674183

Category: Philosophy

Page: 205

View: 8484

This title exposes and evaluates a set of conceptual disputes concerning what we might mean by culture, and how we should go about accounting for it. Its particular focus is a set of evolutionary approaches to the genesis of the human capacity for culture, to subsequent cultural change, and to the ways in which genetic and cultural change interact, or 'co-evolve'. The book as a whole argues that there is little realistic hope that the social sciences might become unified around an evolutionary synthesis. Instead the defence of evolutionary approaches to culture must be more modest in scope
Posted in Philosophy