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Anthropology

In our course we have set out from the study of biological evolution and underst

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In our course we have set out from the study of biological evolution and understood humans as bio-cultural beings.
Remember the three tenets of Darwin’s theory of natural selection that we discussed in week 2:
• There exists heritable variation between individuals in any population.
• The nature of the environment causes some individuals to survive and reproduce more successfully than others.
• This changes the composition of the population in later generations, as succeeding generations of the population take on the characteristics of its reproducing members.
In week 5 we discussed the emergence of culture. We have explored various cases of cultural development, including uses of tools, fire, language, writing, graphism, and (in this week) money.
Can we adopt Darwin’s concepts (population, generations, heritability etc.) to study their history? If not, does it make sense to modify them?
Is their history an evolutionary history in Darwin’s sense?
If so, why? If not, why not?
If it were, does that mean that culture evolves through a sort of algorithm, as Darwin claimed for natural selection in biology?
If it were, would this mean that cultural developments are entirely subject to mechanical forces? Are these forces beyond our control? Are there ethical issues?
You do not need to discuss all of these questions – I list them as potential starting points for your discussion of the overarching question, Is human cultural evolution Darwinian?

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