Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Evolution or Culture

Is culture an evolutionary development or is evolution a cultural construction? In so far as our culture developed thev theory of evolution to describe things like fossils and more recently DNA sequences, yes evolution is culturally constructed. However, given that organisms change and adapt to an ever changing environment it seems a valid hypothesis that culture has evolved out of biological imperatives.

Apparently whales have culture. These cultures offer different approaches to coping with environmental challenges as do other adaptations.


Anonymous said...

At any rate, I liked some of the vadlo evolution Cartoons!

Anonymous said...

Are you of the belief that certain parts of the world have evolved at different rates than others?
If so, then how do we explain dramatically evolved “culture” found in lesser “developed” peoples?
Although it’s logical to expect a correlation between the two, I wonder, however, if the chicken or the egg actually does apply?

adamvs said...

Evolution moves fast enough to continue the dissemination of genes. Otherwise, evolution stops. So using my reasoning both Victorian English culture, and post contact Australian aboriginal cultures were successful as the descendants of both groups of people are alive and reproducing.

This doesn't necessarily involve a moral judgement of the conditions by which either group lives(The aborigines have had it rough as hell, the English not so much). Jarid Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel observes that the peoples of the British Isles found themselves in a favoured land. Pack animals, great environment for agriculture, plentiful resources. The people who first inhabited in what is now Australia arrived in a much more foreboding land. They adapted by successfully developing a hunter/gatherer culture that supported them for almost 40,000 years.
Both cultures have had to change- the English today are not Victorians and the aborigines are in a punishing process of adapting to a change that the "English" made over the course of about 10,000 years. I'm bracketing "English" because we're talking about successive waves of Picts, Celts, Romans(who in turn comprised conscripted troops from across the middle east and Mediterranean basin) Anglo-Saxons and Normans.

Crudely, Julian Freud(whose work I enjoy) is an example of a successful artist because his fame allowed him more opportunities to reproduce. Presumably Aboriginal rock painters art(which is pretty compelling work, to my eyes) created similar reproductive advantage.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but actual physical evolution continues regardless, while certain cultures have been known to crumble and cease to exist.
I think I'll put my money on evolution and a basic survival instinct.
However, your thoery on fame creating more opportunities to reproduce has caught my eye...;)
Love your blogs Adam.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster