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Culture and Darwinian evolution

February 17, 2006

Culture and Darwinian evolution

Jan 17, 2001

hborteck: " Let me butt in here. I think the problem is in the definition of evolution as used scientifically. a) The theory that groups of organisms, as species, may change with passage of time so that descendants differ morphologically and physiologically from their ancestors. b) The historical development of a related group of organisms; phylogeny. Under these definitions, and in fact, culture and ethics can not be genetically passed on. Therefore; no SCIENTIFIC evolution.

Dov : I suggest the obvious, i.e. therefore evolution of culture (in humans it includes ethics) is not a genetic evolution.

hborteck: " The ABILITY to access and use culture and ethics…"

Dov : access and use culture and ethics? I suggest : the ability to evolve and develop culture….

hborteck: "can be genetically passed on. Here is where evolution can take place."

Dov : Can take place? it has been and is taking place in all organisms, mono and poly celled, that display any forms of group/social association.

hborteck: " The unscientific use of the word evolution refers to anything changing. Examples: History changes, ideas change, governments change, ethics and culture change. They evolve, but this is not Darwinian Evolution. Or do I misunderstand the question?

Dov: Herb, there is no such two things as scientific and unscientific meanings of any word, including the word evolution. Being scientific is a state of a human mind and a format of his attitude and approach. It is there no matter to what you refer, including to the list in the above para. In the context of our discussion some of us think that we are being asked to consider scientifically if culture plays a role in evolution whereas others of us think that we are being asked if culture plays any role in Evolution as defined by Darwin himself.


Jan 18, 2001

hborteck: "When two people discuss anything, it is necessary that each understand and agree what the definitions of the words are. You, who can speak and read in more then one language, should be quite cognizant of the problems of communication. Each word in a language may have many connotations and therefore the meanings of words will vary in the context of different sentences and different subjects. In scientific "jargon" we try to limit the meanings. For example: In English, when the general public uses the word "theory", they most often think it means some type of speculation; an idea that has not been proven; an hypotheses. When a scientist uses the word "theory" in a scientific context, he is talking about a structure of ideas that has been tested; explains all known facts about the subject; and can be used to project new ideas that can be falsified.

Dov: Herb, if you are of a "scientist personality" you are aware of all or most of the implications of the various persons or societies or situations that you face, you take them into account and you assess and conclude accordingly.

hborteck: "Please correct me If I state your statement wrongly : 1) Does culture play a role in evolution? 2) Does culture play a role in Darwinian Evolution? Re (1) : Certainly! Culture does play a role in Human evolution. Much less so in the lesser intelligent animals, because humans rely on culture to a far, far greater degree.

Dov: I suggest not "in lesser intelligent animals", but "in other organisms". And I suggest that in the case of Humans culture is increasingly substituting for genetic evolution,i.e. for evolving the capability to survive and replicate.

hborteck: " Re (2) I noticed that you referred to "social" insects in previous posts. They do not fit into the definition of cultural. Their behaviors are automatic, requiring no thought or learning. For an example: The honey bee, Apis mellifera, acts only instinctively and is controlled by the pheromones given off by the Queen, who in turn has no mental or cultural control of her pheromones. This is not learned behavior. This is not culture. It is genetically controlled and is part of Darwinian Evolution."

Dov: Difficult for me to accept a different approach to the honey bee's behaviour and to human's. (By the way, have you ever had the exhilarating experience of observing the build-up of a regional honey bee's assembly on a branch of a tree; a huge number of them clinging to each other in a shape of a large water-melon sized pear, holding their assembly for some time, then dispersing). How is it scientifically possible to disassociate behaviour/culture from genetic constitution? Everything we think and do and capable of thinking and doing is due to and because of our genetic constitution, and in this regard and in all other regards EXCEPT IN THE EXTENT THAT WE EMPLOY OUR CULTURE we are but one of the group of related Earth organisms.

hborteck: "This ability is genetically passed on and enables us to adjust our environment to suit us physically and mentally. This is learned behavior. This ability is part of Darwinian Evolution, not the "culture" in itself.

I hope I have made this clear. Looking forward to your response."


January 21, 2001

Lucas to hborteck: "I would like for you to elaborate on your sentence "The ABILITY to access and use culture and ethics can be genetically > passed on.Here is where evolution can take place." I think I know where you are going with this but want to be sure.

hborteck: "Quite simply, the genetic abilities, physiologic and neuralgic, that enable us to communicate with each other and enable us to learn and consciously change our methods of living and perceiving our environment, are inherited genetically. [Hope this sentence makes sense.]

As I pointed out previously, Dov and Christine are really mixing up genetics with the results of culture."

Jan 22, 2001

Dov: Herb, I have learned that Christine is quite capable of taking care of herself, but when you write that " Dov and Christine are realy mixing up genetics with the results of culture…" I, for myself, decline the honor and confess that I do not understand where and how I " have been mixing up genetics with the results of culture…"


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