Two who?

5       Cultural evolution – How we relate to one another


Outline | Labor | Instinct | Summary


                                    it fairly reeks of theory of mind



Soft inheritance or acquired traits, learning, ethos, social behavior, fear group dynamics, kin & kinship, fight or flight vs. stay & play, socialization,  sanity & pathology, taboo, adaptive vs. maladaptive actions, reciprocity, retribution, conditioning, transference, neurosis, cooperation vs. coercion.



.         The Evolution of Culture { 69

.          Early human culture { 72 Human family tree

1.    2.5 million years of stone tools (Figure 4.1) { 73

2.    250,000 years ago

a.    the Acheulian  progressed to Mesolithic

b.    from flake to sophisticated tools

.               The Great leap forward  { 74 J. Diamond’s phrase for “revolution”

.          The roots of warfare { 99

.               Culture since farming { 105

.              Family Definition and Structure {108

.        From Family to States {110

.              Norms & Mechanisms of Cultural Evolution {115


The labor theory of value

John Locke & Karl Marx.


Natural resources   X   Human resources        =      technology

   Land            times        Labor        equals     capital



See land. labor, & wealth as creators of value.




            fight or flight vs. stay & play

            norepinephrine [1]

The Great leap forward  { 74


Darwin on instinct




“Understanding cultural evolution (and how our brains evolved to make it possible) is both fascinating and critical to an understanding of how homo sapiens (from a common ancestor with Homo erectus) achieved global dominance.”                                                                                                     p. 97

a theory of mind



            Steven Mithln

                        1.        capacity to picture the outcome of future actions {animal

                        2.        fantasm – capacity to ignore & reject reality{ human

                        3.        leap of imagination,”  Lyell, Bohr, Einstein, etc. { genii

p. 98


natural selection could be the  mechanism responsible for the diversity of life” required such an “imaginative leap.”


theory of mind”

aware of the thoughts and intentions of others.”


aggressive behavior”      “warfare”


development of “goal directedness”

Steps in achieving an end:             planning





The roots of warfare { 99

human “passive aggression.”

         “Requires a lot of imagination”

         intra-group directed aggression humans share with other animals. chimps

Gombe males and chimpanzee troops


         the Kaskala males had wiped out the Kahama coomunity.”

         Goodall thinks that they probably were deliberately homicidal,”

                  living in an area of recently and dramatically restricted habitat.”


“Frequent intra-community violence among people . . . or warfare . . . is nearly ubiquitous among human societies.”


defend well-marked territorial areas and kills of prey animals.”


why don’t elephants and dolphins reveal such behavior?


models to inform us about the likelihood that we have violent ‘natures.?”


much less common among bonobos than among chimpanzees,”


females initiating cross-community grooming and even copulation.”


“Infanticide is unreported in bonobos, but it does occur in chimps.”


work among other primates suggests  the environmental flexibility of aggressive behavior.”


baboons were studied

The males change behavior when aggressive males are not present.


resource shortages and population pressures were involved in the generation of conflict.”


stages of violence have been proposed in studies of 132 cultures


         homo erectus 1 million years ago – spears

         cooperative hunting could reduce such intra-group violence

         agricultural revolution – permitted military specialization


         consideration of entire groups as enemies”

societies have gone to war more often as they became more structured into classes, maintained cadres of professional soldiers, and developed more complex technologies.”



There is no evidence of genetic determined violent character traits since friendship is also manifest across populations.


There is a paradox here­–war is undesirable from the viewpoint of most sane people, yet warfare persists. “

Not instinctual or behaviorally predetermined

“Cultural evolution is too complex for that.”



The rapid change wrought by the agricultural revolution, which led to vastly greater stores of non-genetic information and transformed the social organizations . . .”


“12,000 to 7,000 years ago

in eight remote and detached places around the world

1.    New Guinea

2.    China

3.    Persia (Iran) Caucasus

4.    Central & South America,

          5.    North America

6.    Africa

7.    Northern India

8.    Southeast Asia


Jericho, 11,400 years ago


         began intervening to shape nature”


“That agricultural revolution . . . represents much more than a new stage in human intergroup violence. It launched our species into an entirely new arena of cultural evolution, one that did away forever with the long-term human situation of everyone being the possessor of almost all the non-genetic information of his or her society.”


a coherent picture of genetic evolution”


         culture is equated with non-genetic evolution


There is no unified “theory of culture” to match “natural selection’s predictive power


non-genetic information is responsible for human’s

profound power to affect all life on Earth.”



“Human culture has been evolving for some 6 to 7 million years


gradually began to master the manufacture of tools.”



twenty to fifty is the “optimal number” of people in an effective human group

relationship between the size of the brain’s perceiving thinking structure (the neo-cortex) and the factor that bind primate societies together.”


kinship     “often using chemical clues”

Humans rely primarily on sight and odor clues


kin selection is one possible explanations for the evolution of some kinds of altruistic behavior in people:’


Family Definition and Structure {108

social learning”     is “learning by observing others.”


cooperating more with one another in their productive and reproductive lives than they do with other individuals.”


“Na people of China’s matrilines                 matrilineal descent lines

the necessity of intercourse to produce children is recognized but, the genetic contribution of the male is not.”


women frequently have dozens of lovers.”



Clans emerge as the initial separating mechanism in developing gatherer/hunter societies


From Family to States {110

surpluses built-up by agricultural production led to further segmentation

or reinforced segmentation already / underway


The post-agricultural evolution lead to the reinforcement of nation states


“The human experience as a small group animal is largely over today for everyone”


the language of pseudokinship is widespread within states”


three kinds of circumscription”  the theme and theory of how nation-states develop

1.    geographic or environmental barriers

2.    resource and

3.    social


more frequent warfare and the rise of statehood


  Norms & Mechanisms of Cultural Evolution {115


They are examples of the modifications of norms


Diversification of family structures, agricultural revolution, the changing face of warfare


“Norms provide cultural... viscosity that can help sustain adaptive behavior and retard detrimental changes in society....”

change is itself is a daunting problem.”


stickiness can inhibit the introduction and spread of beneficial behaviors.”


"...the evolution of technological norms will generally be more rapid than that of ethical norms."


"Technological changes are usually tested promtly against environmental conditions–"


differential speeds of cultural evolution between essential and auxiliary features of tools


         Polynesian canoe designs are more divergent than the structural components necessary for navigation.


Suggest conservation of survival related qualities and elaboration of non-essential patterns


favoring  conservation cultural features that helped avoid disaster slowed the differentiation of structural characteristics.”


 brain sizes


“Understanding cultural evolution (and how our brains evolved to make it possible) is both fascinating and critical to an understanding of how homo sapiens (from a common ancestor with erectus) achieved global dominance.”




[1] Norepinephrine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. As a hormone, secreted by the adrenal gland, it works alongside epinephrine / adrenaline to give the body sudden energy in times of stress, known as the "fight or flight" response. As a neurotransmitter, it passes nerve impulses from one neuron to the next. C8 H11 NO3 is the molecular formula for the hormone.