Cultural Evolution

Cultural Evolution

by Kate Distin
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0521189713

ISBN-13: 9780521189712

Pub. Date: 05/31/2010

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

In this book, Kate Distin proposes a theory of cultural evolution and shows how it can help us understand the origin and development of human culture. Distin introduces the concept that humans share information not only in natural languages, which are spoken or signed, but also in artefactual languages like writing and musical notation, which use media that are

Overview

In this book, Kate Distin proposes a theory of cultural evolution and shows how it can help us understand the origin and development of human culture. Distin introduces the concept that humans share information not only in natural languages, which are spoken or signed, but also in artefactual languages like writing and musical notation, which use media that are made by humans. Languages enable humans to receive and transmit variations in cultural information and resources. In this way, they provide the mechanism for cultural evolution. The human capacity for metarepresentation-thinking about how we think-accelerates cultural evolution, because it frees cultural information from the conceptual limitation of each individual language. Distin shows how the concept of cultural evolution outlined in this book can help us understand the complexity and diversity of human culture, relating her theory to a range of subjects including economics, linguistics and developmental biology.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521189712
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
05/31/2010
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: "Small Consequences of One General Law" 1

Part I The Inheritance of Cultural Information

2 What Is Information? 11

3 How Is Information Inherited? 25

Part II The Inheritance of Cultural Information: Natural Language

4 Natural Language and Culture: The Biological Building Blocks 49

5 How Did Natural Language Evolve? 62

6 Language, Thought and Culture 78

Part III The Inheritance of Cultural Information: Artefactual Language

7 How Did Artefactual Language Evolve? 89

8 Artefactual Language, Representation and Culture 107

9 Money: An Artefactual Language 126

10 Money: The Explanatory Power of Artefactual Languages 146

Part IV The Receivers of Cultural Information

11 How Does Human Diversity Affect Cultural Evolution? 169

Part V The Expression of Cultural Information

12 Aspects of the Cultural Ecology 185

13 Patterns of Cultural Taxonomy 200

14 Conclusion: A Representational Understanding of Cultural Evolution 220

Appendix: What about Memetics? 231

Acknowledgements 235

Bibliography 239

Index 263

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