Re: Shotgun wedding for evolution and culture

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Sun Mar 10 2002 - 23:13:23 GMT

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    Hi Kenneth,

    > Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 20:56:44 +0100
    > From: "Kenneth Van Oost" <>
    > Subject: Re: Shotgun wedding for evolution and culture
    > - ----- Original Message -----
    > From: Steve Drew <>
    >> In my reading, i have not come across any reference to Spencer as a close
    >> friend of Darwin. As far as i am aware Darwin was not too keen on
    > Spencer's
    >> views, partly i suspect, because he still retained some of his childhood
    >> beliefs in god. this is despite his disavowal of god during the wasp saga.
    >> And possibly because Spencer still clung to residues of Lamarkism
    >>> "The problem of course is that you can fit this logic into any framework
    >>> you like," said Jones. "There seems to be a remarkable willingness to
    >>> accept Darwinian explanations for uniquely human attributes," he noted.
    >>> But evolution is no good at explaining things that are unique, he said,
    >>> because it is a comparative science.
    > Hi Steve,
    > You are trespassing my kind of turf here, so to speak!

    Wasn't aware of that Kenneth. I just don't agree with a lot that Jones says,
    which seems to be your position.

    > My point which I defend upon this list, more then often, is just what is
    > written above_ that Darwinism is no good explanation for understanding
    > culture.

    On its own, i agree.

    > It is my conviction, from day 1, that indeed Darwinism can 't fully ex-
    > plain my unique, individual attributes to the culture I live in.
    > IMO, Darwinism works, likes Boltzmann used to say, better on the
    > level of groups, not so on the level of individuals.
    > Of course, like the article points out, there is a certain willingness to
    > explain everything with and in Darwinistic terms and probably right
    > so, but science and the people in it are equal willingly to forget those
    > viewpoints which contradict their theory.

    Scientists do it more often than they are to admit.

    > I am somewhat a Lamarck- adept and IMO, on a personal than
    > individual level, Lamarckism works better to explain my position in
    > the culture I live in.
    > Lawrence and I had in the past a few discussions how that came
    > about, briefly put, my personal life conducted me to the position to
    > take my life in my own hands and fight for what I was worth.
    > Lamarckism, the goal- intented- notion of it was something I couldn 't
    > do without.
    > Probably, all of this can be easily explained in more Darwinistic terms,
    > but I am not that sure that natural selection prompted the life I had to
    > live after my parents died. Memetic engineering and The Self- Building-
    > Project- via- Memes concept of which I am still the only experiment
    > has nothing to do with Darwinism... IMO !

    To memes are a combination of of Darwin and Lamark. The memes can undergo
    Darwinian transformation but they can also reproduce Via Lamarkism. i.e.
    through the same generatin or back through to previous generations, from
    child to parent.
    > That now, in a sense, scientists are ready to question Darwin and his
    > theory stems me convinced for the future. Of course, John Wilkins
    > will contradict everything about the notion that Lamarckism pops up
    > in the ways that culture develops and evolves, but IMO that is perfectly
    > natural_ being a scientist as he is, he will be probably be raised in the
    > Darwinistic school of things, memes are already fixed and in the light
    > of the natural selection by which evolution is conducted he will be fo-
    > cused upon the group- aspect not on the inividualistic mode.
    > Having said this, it is also my conviction, that in memetics ( which in
    > turn has Darwinistic explanations attached to it) the viewpoint that
    > cultural traits are collective, is wrong. The unique things that each
    > human behavior is, every single aspect of behavior, is Lamarckian,
    > not Darwinian, that due to the underlying standard of individuality,
    > which is, and I repeat, Lamarckian.
    > Every single aspect of human behavior begins on a Lamarckian level,
    > our brain makes the connections, makes new thoughts and brings
    > along new ideas and viewpoints_ it is just that many others are in
    > the same boat ( feeling insecure for example) and that the result of
    > such a behavior is transferred into, for example, in racism, what can
    > be seen on a more collective level. That everything is done, apparantly
    > along Darwinistic lineages is just another way of looking at things.
    > Lamarckism is just the spark which Darwinism and therefor culture
    > needs to evolve.

    I think we are still at the level of understanding the gene meme divide and
    this reflects in the Darwin Lamark divide. Biologist aren't that keen on
    > Dawinism in memetics can 't explain why many of us ran to the streets
    > after a princess died, and probably you will argue it can ( of which I
    > am aware and I understand and comprehend the viewpoints which
    > lead us to it), but keeping Lamarckism in mind ( being a component
    > of individuality) the issue is raised that perhaps we must adjust that
    > point of view.
    > Wade said once, and I personalize his words here, I assert some
    > degree of randomness on an individual level for each individual mem-
    > ber of the set/ culture which can 't be explained/ can 't be comprehend
    > by/ with Darwinistic explanations/ terms and therefor the view we have
    > about culture is incomplete, inaccurate,... not fully " collective " and
    > therefor, in some sense, not fully Darwinian !!

    I agree.
    > Regards,
    > Kenneth

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