From: Wade T. Smith (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 23 Mar 2003 - 17:30:11 GMT
On Sunday, March 23, 2003, at 06:34 AM, Keith wrote:
> Culture is emergent, based on the spread and persistence of
> non-genetic information in a population of animals--and there are
> examples outside of primates. But I doubt you would disagree that the
> various levels depend on the lower levels, physics, chemistry, genes,
> cells, organisms (and species) up to culture. Or that there can be
> feedback from level to level. In the case of culture, we humans have
> had it so long that it has fed back to shape our genes. I.e., memes
> to break rocks into sharp edges replaced genes for sharp teeth
> millions of years ago.
Whether there are actual examples of culture outside of primates is
highly debatable and actively so. IMHO, there is no valid evidence of
examples outside of 'homo', but, that's me.
What has 'fed back' to shape our culture (and I have not yet seen any
evidence that we have changed genetically in well over thousands and
thousands of years) is what our behaviors have done to augment, effect,
and modify the physical environment within which we breed, the
'mise-en-scene' of our social existence. 'Information' is a problematic concept in this loopback, as, does a river need 'information' to change its course? No, it does not, it only needs a rock to shift or an erosion to occur in its present one, regardless of the fact that the river's strength and progress might have caused the rock to shift or the bank to erode.
Culture _is_ an emergent phenomenon, yes- caused by another emergent
phenomenon, the self-consciousness of its participants- spreading and
persisting via performance within the mise-en-scene, changing course in
response to changes in the course. It's _based_ on genetic survival,
and its mechanism is performances that maintain a cohesive social and
physical environment over time.
And I'm not so sure our dental patterns are significantly different
from erectus. One of the distinguishing features of all homo species is
the smallness of the incisors. Austrolopithecus had already begun this
evolution, and no tool use is associated with this species.
"It is widely accepted that eating highly nutritious animal foods was
necessary for later, larger-brained Homo (our own genus) to maintain
its "expensive" brain, but the researchers suggest that our more
ancient pre-human ancestors' diets may have been just as animal rich.
Typical animal foods could have included grass-eating insects, small
animals like hyraxes and the young of grazing animals such as
antelopes. In that case, the primary dietary difference between A.
africanus and Homo may not have been the quality of their food but
their manner of obtaining and processing it, write Mr Sponheimer and Dr
Lee-Thorp. The crude stone tools used by early Homo half a million
years later would have enabled them to obtain meat and marrow from
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