Darwinian evolution, defined as evolution arising from selection based directly on the properties of individuals, does not account for cultural constructs providing the organizational basis of human societies. The difficulty with linking Darwinian evolution to structural properties of cultural constructs is exemplified with kinship terminologies, a cultural construct that structures and delineates the domain of kin in human societies. (Published Online November 9 2006).
Jones' proposed application of Optimality Theory assumes the primary kinship data are genealogical definitions of kin terms. This, however, ignores the fact that these definitions can be predicted from the computational, algebralike structural logic of kinship terminologies, as has been discussed and demonstrated in numerous publications. The richness of human kinship systems derives from the cultural knowledge embedded in kinship terminologies as symbolic computation systems, not the post hoc constraints devised by Jones.
The evolution from pre-human primates to modern Homo sapiens is a complex one involving many domains, ranging from the material to the social to the cognitive, both at the individual and the community levels. This article focuses on a critical qualitative transition that took place during this evolution involving both the social and the cognitive domains. For the social domain, the transition is from the face-to-face forms of social interaction and organization that characterize the non-human primates that reached, with Pan, (...) a hiatus due to the centripetal effects that highly individualized behavior has on a social system. The transition is to the relation-based forms of social organization that evolved in the hominins ancestral to Homo sapiens and are universal in human societies today. For the cognitive domain, this transition involves going from behavior responding mainly to phenomenal level sensory inputs to behavior formed in accordance with the concept of a relation, initially abstracted from behavior patterns, then extending the concept of a relation beyond abstraction from behavior patterns to the concept of a relation generated recursively through constructing the relation of a relation. This extension made possible the construction of systems of relations; initially genealogical systems of relations constructed culturally using the logic of recursion, and subsequently, the symbolic, computational systems of kin term relations referred to by anthropologists as kinship terminologies. The latter are “constructed realities” in the sense this term is used by cultural anthropologists. It follows that the evolution of relation-based systems of social interaction is not adequately accounted for through population model evolutionary accounts such as the Dual Inheritance Theory of human evolution since “constructed realities” constitute collectively and publicly shared cultural knowledge rather than the individually and privately possessed knowledge that is assumed in the population model framework for human evolution. (shrink)
The term “deep history” refers to historical accounts framed temporally not by the advent of a written record but by evolutionary events (Smail 2008; Shryock and Smail 2011). The presumption of deep history is that the events of today have a history that traces back beyond written history to events in the evolutionary past. For human kinship, though, even forming a history of kinship, let alone a deep history, remains problematic, given limited, relevant data (Trautman et al. 2011). With regard (...) to a deep history, one conjecture is that human kinship evolved from primate social systems in a gradual, more-or-less continuous manner (see Chapais 2008); another conjecture is that kinship, in accordance with the incest account of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1969) or the fanciful, tetradic account of Nicholas J. Allen (1986), “comes into existence with a leap” (Trautman et al. 2011: 176); and yet another, the account to be developed in this paper, is that kinship, as it is understood and lived by culture bearers today, is the consequence of a profound and qualitative evolutionary transformation going from an ancestral primate-like social system predicated on extensive face-to-face interaction to the relation-based social systems that characterize human societies (Read 2012). (shrink)
The evolutionary trajectory from non-human to human forms of social organization involves change from experiential- to relational-based systems of social interaction. Social organization derived from biologically and experientially grounded social interaction reached a hiatus with the great apes due to an expansion of individualization of behaviour. The hiatus ended with the introduction of relational-based social interaction, culminating in social organization based on cultural kinship. This evolutionary trajectory links biological origins to cultural outcomes and makes evident the centrality of distributed forms (...) of information for both the boundary and internal structure of human societies as these evolved from prior forms of social organization. (shrink)
Subjective experience is transformed into objective reality for societal members through cultural idea systems that can be represented with theory and data models. A theory model shows relationships and their logical implications that structure a cultural idea system. A data model expresses patterning found in ethnographic observations regarding the behavioral implementation of cultural idea systems. An example of this duality for modeling cultural idea systems is illustrated with Arabic proverbs that structurally link friend and enemy as concepts through a culturally (...) defined computational system. Computational systems also generate new concepts, as will be illustrated through a theory model for the structure of a .. (shrink)
We present an algebraic account of the Tongan kinship terminology (TKT) that provides an insightful journey into the fabric of Tongan culture. We begin with the ethnographic account of a social event. The account provides us with the activities of that day and the centrality of kin relations in the event, but it does not inform us of the conceptual system that the participants bring with them. Rather, it is a slice in time of an ongoing dynamic process that links (...) behavior with a conceptual system of kin relations and vice versa. To understand this interplay, we need an account of the underlying conceptual system that is being activated during the event. Thus, we introduce a formal, algebraically based account of TKT. This account brings to the fore the underlying logic of TKT and allows us to distinguish between features of the kinship system that arise from the logic of TKT as a generative structure and features that must have arisen through cultural intervention. (shrink)
Human beings, as a species, have two outstanding characteristics compared to all other species: the apparently enormous elaboration of our thought through language and symbolism, and the elaboration of our forms of social organization. The obvious question is whether these two characteristics are connected. ... Our view is that they are connected intimately. Thought and social organization are two aspects of the same larger phenomenon, or better the same larger bundle of phenomena. ... Here we bring the two streams of (...) analysis together, in what is at once an exposition of the basic structure of the systems of thought that organizations are built upon and, eo ipso, an exposition of the organizational basis and origin of human thinking as such. The resulting reconfiguring of questions, answers, and methods, we believe, cannot be described otherwise than as a new science and not just a new paradigm. (shrink)
This paper argues that explicit reading instruction should be part of lower level undergraduate philosophy courses. Specifically, the paper makes the claim that it is necessary to provide the student with both the relevant background knowledge about a philosophical work and certain metacognitive skills that enrich the reading process and their ability to organize the content of a philosophical text with other aspects of knowledge. A “How to Read Philosophy” handout and student reactions to the handout are provided.
An exceptional contribution to the teaching and study of Chinese thought, this anthology provides fifty-eight selections arranged chronologically in five main sections: Han Thought, Chinese Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, Late Imperial Confucianism, and the early Twentieth Century. The editors have selected writings that have been influential, that are philosophically engaging, and that can be understood as elements of an ongoing dialogue, particularly on issues regarding ethical cultivation, human nature, virtue, government, and the underlying structure of the universe. Within those topics, issues of (...) contemporary interest, such as Chinese ideas about gender and the experiences of women, are brought to light. -/- Introductions to each main section provide an overview of the period, while brief headnotes to selections highlight key points. -/- The translations are the works of many distinguished scholars, and were chosen for their accuracy and accessibility, especially for students, general readers, and scholars who do not read Chinese. Special effort has been made to maintain consistency of key terms across translations. -/- Also included are a glossary, bibliography, index of names, and an index locorum of The Four Books. (shrink)
As a subject of inquiry, laws of nature exist in the overlap between metaphysics and the philosophy of science. Over the past three decades, this area of study has become increasingly central to the philosophy of science. It also has relevance to a variety of topics in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and epistemology. Readings on Laws of Nature is the first anthology to offer a contemporary history of the problem of laws. The book is organized around three (...) key issues: the matter of distinguishing laws from mere correlations, questions concerning inductive reasoning and laws, and the consideration of whether there are any true laws in science. Designed for class use, the anthology covers a remarkably broad range of views and concerns, and consists exclusively of articles that have proved highly influential in the field. Readings on Laws of Nature will also serve as a valuable research and reference tool for philosophers who do not specialize in the subject, but who have occasion to examine concepts relating to the laws of nature in their own work. (shrink)
It has been widely argued that digital technologies are transforming the nature of reading, and with it, our brains and a wide range of our cognitive capabilities. In this article, we begin by discussing the new analytical category of deep-reading and whether it is really on the decline. We analyse deep reading and its grounding in brain reorganization, based upon Michael Anderson’s Massive Redeployment hypothesis and Dehaene’s Neuronal Recycling which both help us to theorize how the capacities of brains are (...) transformed by acquisition of new skills. We examine some of the difficulties in comparing reading using technologies such as the web-browser, the tablet and E-Reader, with reading using the pre-existing print culture. While learning to read undoubtedly changes the brain, we examine what evidence there is for this being tightly tied to particular material substrates and find this lacking. Instead we attempt to situate cognitive changes around the new reading within the context of the specific new cognitive ecologies incorporating both screen and page. This involves a reconsideration of the role of material culture in the cognitive abilities. (shrink)
This new edition offers expanded selections from the works of Kongzi, Mengzi, Zhuangzi, and Xunzi ; two new works, the dialogues _Robber Zhi_ and _White Horse_; a concise general introduction; brief introductions to, and selective bibliographies for, each work; and four appendices that shed light on important figures, periods, texts, and terms in Chinese thought.
Guala does not go far enough in his critique of the assumption that human decisions about sharing made in the context of experimental game conditions accurately reflect decision-making under real conditions. Sharing of hunted animals is constrained by cultural rules and is not as assumed in models of weak and strong reciprocity. Missing in these models is the cultural basis of sharing that makes it a group property rather than an individual one.
How children learn number concepts reflects the conceptual and logical distinction between counting numbers, based on a same-size concept for collections of objects, and natural numbers, constructed as an algebra defined by the Peano axioms for arithmetic. Cross-cultural research illustrates the cultural specificity of counting number systems, and hence the cultural context must be taken into account.
This topically organized, interdisciplinary anthology provides competing perspective on the claim that western culture faces a moral crisis. Using clearly written, accessible essays by well-known authors in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities, the book introduces students to a variety of perspectives on the current cultural debate about values that percolates beneath the surface of most of our social and political controversies.
Encultured individuals see the behavioral rules of cultural systems of moral norms as objective. In addition to prescriptive regulation of behavior, moral norms provide templates, scripts, and scenarios regulating the expression of feelings and triggered emotions arising from perceptions of norm violation. These allow regulated defensive responses that may arise as moral idea systems co-opt emotionally associated biological survival instincts.