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Darwin-L Message Log 5:207 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<5:207>From GRB%NCCIBM1.BITNET@KU9000.CC.UKANS.EDU  Fri Jan 28 21:06:32 1994

Date: Fri, 28 Jan 1994 21:01 -0500 (EST)
From: George Buckner <GRB%NCCIBM1.BITNET@KU9000.CC.UKANS.EDU>
Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 131
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

As one with a background in cultural anthropology, I want to second
the view proposed by Matt Tomaso:

> At the core of this argument are a few simple themes:  technology (or, less
> broadly, cultural materials), adaptation, and culture.  The question then,
> seems to hinge on one of the many (and old) definitions of what culture might
> be:  "Man's (sic) extrasomatic means of adaptation"

(text deleted)...

> In place of 'extrasomatic' read 'conscious'.  The rest of the definition is
> self-explanatory, if you know your evolution.
>
> If this definition has any utility, then what does it tell us about 'stopping
> evolution'.  We can read its implications at least two ways:  'We no longer
> need biological evolution, since we adapt culturally' (and I admit this
> sounds / is ridiculous) or 'we effect the process of selection by means of
> culture'.  I hold that the latter statement has some merit.

(text deleted)...

> If you've gotten this far into this post, perhaps you will even have the
> patience/tenacity to try to grapple with this question:  What if we reduce
> the argument and invert it such that we can look at culture itself as nothing
> more than a kind of dynamic technology, or an 'apparatus of adaptation'?

The conscious (and intelligent) mind is an apparatus of adaptation for
the individual. Culture extends from this to become the apparatus of
adaptation for the group (which can further serve the adaptation for
the individual). Biological evolution hasn't been replaced but extended,
and this extension loops back, via our culture and the changes on the
physical environment which it imposes, to effect biological evolution.

By the way, where do I sign on to ANTHRO-L ?

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% George Buckner                                                    %
% GRB@NCCIBM1.BITNET                                                %
% 72510.2216@COMPUSERVE.COM                                         %
% LEEWARD@AOL.COM                                                   %
% "Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders    %
%  what the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of."            %
%                                       -They Might Be Giants       %
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