Not By Genes Alone

Author: Peter J. Richerson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226712133
Release Date: 2008-06-20
Genre: Social Science

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

Not By Genes Alone

Author: Peter J. Richerson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226712125
Release Date: 2006-06-01
Genre: Social Science

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

Not By Genes Alone

Author: Peter J. Richerson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226712842
Release Date: 2004-12-31
Genre: Social Science

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

Culture and the Evolutionary Process

Author: Robert Boyd
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226069338
Release Date: 1988-06-15
Genre: Science

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.

A Different Kind of Animal How Culture Transformed Our Species

Author: Robert Boyd
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400888528
Release Date: 2017-11-14
Genre: Science

How our ability to learn from each other has been the essential ingredient to our remarkable success as a species Human beings are a very different kind of animal. We have evolved to become the most dominant species on Earth. We have a larger geographical range and process more energy than any other creature alive. This astonishing transformation is usually explained in terms of cognitive ability—people are just smarter than all the rest. But in this compelling book, Robert Boyd argues that culture—our ability to learn from each other—has been the essential ingredient of our remarkable success. A Different Kind of Animal demonstrates that while people are smart, we are not nearly smart enough to have solved the vast array of problems that confronted our species as it spread across the globe. Over the past two million years, culture has evolved to enable human populations to accumulate superb local adaptations that no individual could ever have invented on their own. It has also made possible the evolution of social norms that allow humans to make common cause with large groups of unrelated individuals, a kind of society not seen anywhere else in nature. This unique combination of cultural adaptation and large-scale cooperation has transformed our species and assured our survival—making us the different kind of animal we are today. Based on the Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University, A Different Kind of Animal features challenging responses by biologist H. Allen Orr, philosopher Kim Sterelny, economist Paul Seabright, and evolutionary anthropologist Ruth Mace, as well as an introduction by Stephen Macedo.

Darwin s Unfinished Symphony

Author: Kevin N. Laland
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400884872
Release Date: 2017-02-21
Genre: Science

How culture transformed human evolution 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.

The Secret of Our Success

Author: Joseph Henrich
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400873296
Release Date: 2015-10-27
Genre: Science

Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains—on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations. Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, mobile hunter-gatherers, neuroscientific findings, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species' genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many cultural innovations, such as fire, cooking, water containers, plant knowledge, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, anatomy, and psychology in crucial ways. Later on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, such as the lever, wheel, screw, and writing, while also creating the institutions that continue to alter our motivations and perceptions. Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and how culture-gene interactions launched our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory. Tracking clues from our ancient past to the present, The Secret of Our Success explores how the evolution of both our cultural and social natures produce a collective intelligence that explains both our species' immense success and the origins of human uniqueness.

Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution

Author: Stephen Shennan
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520255992
Release Date: 2009
Genre: Science

"Archaeological data are uniquely suited to testing models of cultural evolution. This volume provides an excellent summary of the state of the art in this new field."--Robert Boyd, coauthor of "Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution"

Cultural Evolution

Author: Alex Mesoudi
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226520452
Release Date: 2011-07-30
Genre: Political Science

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.

Cultural Transmission and Evolution

Author: Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691082839
Release Date: 1981
Genre: Science

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.

Anthropologist

Author: Mary Batten
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780618083688
Release Date: 2001
Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction

Describes the daily lives and customs of the Achâe people, one of the few hunter-gatherers societies left in the world, based on the studies of anthropologist Magdalena Hurtado.

Wired for Culture Origins of the Human Social Mind

Author: Mark Pagel
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393063158
Release Date: 2012-02-27
Genre: Science

“Does an excellent job of using evolutionary biology to discuss the origins of religion, music, art, and . . . morality.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review A unique trait of the human species is that our personalities, lifestyles, and worldviews are shaped by an accident of birth—namely, the culture into which we are born. It is our cultures and not our genes that determine which foods we eat, which languages we speak, which people we love and marry, and which people we kill in war. But how did our species develop a mind that is hardwired for culture—and why? Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel tracks this intriguing question through the last 80,000 years of human evolution, revealing how an innate propensity to contribute and conform to the culture of our birth not only enabled human survival and progress in the past but also continues to influence our behavior today. Shedding light on our species’ defining attributes—from art, morality, and altruism to self-interest, deception, and prejudice—Wired for Culture offers surprising new insights into what it means to be human.

Cultural Evolution

Author: Tim Lewens
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 9780199674183
Release Date: 2015
Genre: Philosophy

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

Moral Believing Animals

Author: Christian Smith
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195347536
Release Date: 2003-07-10
Genre: Social Science

What kind of animals are human beings? And how do our visions of the human shape our theories of social action and institutions? In Moral, Believing Animals, Christian Smith advances a creative theory of human persons and culture that offers innovative, challenging answers to these and other fundamental questions in sociological, cultural, and religious theory. Smith suggests that human beings have a peculiar set of capacities and proclivities that distinguishes them significantly from other animals on this planet. Despite the vast differences in humanity between cultures and across history, no matter how differently people narrate their lives and histories, there remains an underlying structure of human personhood that helps to order human culture, history, and narration. Drawing on important recent insights in moral philosophy, epistemology, and narrative studies, Smith argues that humans are animals who have an inescapable moral and spiritual dimension. They cannot avoid a fundamental moral orientation in life and this, says Smith, has profound consequences for how sociology must study human beings.

Genes Memes and Human History

Author: Stephen Shennan
Publisher:
ISBN: 0500051186
Release Date: 2002
Genre: Science

Uses neo-Darwinian evolutionary ideas to explore the history of human populations and the origins of, and changes to, their cultural traditions.