RE: Durkheim redux

From: Price, Ilfryn (
Date: Wed 20 Apr 2005 - 17:46:08 GMT

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    From: on behalf of Scott Chase Sent: Tue 19/04/2005 23:35 To: Subject: RE: Durkheim redux

    --- "Price, Ilfryn" <> wrote:

    > > Yes, we can verbalise a greater range of sounds and
    > make artefacts - the naked, talking, tool making
    > ape. Those abilities may be
    > exaptions but they created an environment for
    > memetic replication not apparently matched elsewhere
    > in our planet's biosphere. The
    > rest is history (or pre history).
    >So would you agree with Gould that our large, complex
    brain that itself was crafted by selection in ancestral environments may have some byproducts that in themselves are nonaptive and could be co-opted into various uses (perhaps as exaptions or as functional shifts)?>

      Yes and no. I have great sympathy with Gould on exaption etc. I am not sure about the large brain. Without having had time to pursue as much literature as I would like I have an intuitive leaning toward the Aquatic Ape Theory which would have an arrangement of the larynx etc (for breathing control) that serendipitously, in fully evolved form, allowed a wide range of vocal control . Add that to an upright posture and some propensity for throwing rocks at things and you kick of language and tool use an environment conducive to large brain evolution


    >If cultural changes themselves were a byproduct of a
    ccomplex brain with lots of architectural space to doodle with, maybe replication of cultural products or mentifacts could be one such nonaptive byproduct and thus make Blackmore's memetic drive hypothesis unnecessary? Here the brain would already be big and culture secondary a a result.>


    I don't see a problem with some memetic drive and coevolution of brains artifacts and mentifacts, save that I would see mentifacts as languaged into existence. I suspect verbal capability and stone throwing (Calvin) came before brain growth kicked in, but it is speculation at this stage.


    ..Sorry for the hand-waving, but I'm just aproaching this at the "just so" level without anything handy to use as a good example. Due to Pinker/Chomsky language might be out as something that can be explained away by memes, but perhaps religion could be somewhere to look for answers. >>



    I am not sure abour Pinker / Chomsky. Where does the selection pressure for innate grammars etc come in if you do not have verbalisation ability. If that kicks starts the process there is then a survival advatage in evolving brains with language acquisition capability. How do you evolve religion without language? (See Price and Lord, 2002? Journal of Memetics for more on religion as memetic)

    I'll pas on the rest of your post if you don't mind. Too much for the time available


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