Re: Adapted Mind--where memetics fits in knowledge space

From: Douglas Brooker (
Date: Thu 29 Jan 2004 - 14:37:54 GMT

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    Keith Henson writes:

    > At 08:38 PM 28/01/04 +0200, you wrote:
    >> > Keith wrote:
    >> > PS. The critique of social "science" in The Adaptive Mind is
    >> devastating.
    >> who wrote it? A search on Amazon turns up about a dozen different books.
    > [resent, new subject for some reason came back to me but does not show on
    > the web site]
    > Sorry, typo.
    > Barkow, J.H./Cosmides, L./Tooby, J., eds. 1992. The Adapted Mind:
    > Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. New York/Oxford:
    > Oxford University Press.
    > Up this thread on Monday I quoted 3 paragraphs.
    > Thus, . . . the social sciences have largely kept themselves isolated from
    > this crystallizing process of scientific integration.
    > . . . social scientists . . . have tended to neglect or even reject the
    > central principle that valid scientific knowledge . . . should be mutually
    > consistent . . . . In consequence, this insularity is not just an
    > accident.

    searching the book on google, one is struck by the number of instances in which the book is associated with anthropology courses in North American colleges, seeming to contradict the vitriol of the passage cited.

    Mauss was a sociologist/anthropologist. His concept of the "total social fact" included the biological.

    "The central premise of The Adapted Mind is that there is a universal human nature, but that this universality exists primarily at the level of evolved psychological mechanisms, not of expressed cultural behaviors.... A second premise is that these evolved psychological mechanisms are adaptations, constructed by natural selection over evolutionary time. A third assumption made by most of the contributors is that the evolved structure of the human mind is adapted to the way of life of Pleistocene hunter-gatherers, and not necessarily to our modern circumstances."

    I can see some evidence in my work in the anthropology and evolution of legal doctrine that suggests the first premise, at least on a collective rather than individual level. But it necessary that we all become missionaries?

    There would seem to be a problem reconciling the second and third premises.

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