Re: Cultural Evolution & History

Dr I Price (
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 04:48:22 -0400

Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 04:48:22 -0400
From: Dr I Price <>
Subject: Re: Cultural Evolution & History
To: "" <>

BB >I tend to agree with the notion of "tapping new resources," though th=
particular ones you mention are rather too physical for my taste.>

Agreed. Physical resources weren't everything. There were new technologie=
technomemes about like printing, and sailing ships [and Arabic Mathematic=
as you observe in the next post]. Complex Adaptive Systems theory would
see these 'upheaval events' as periodic and inevitable at all scales. My
own interest in memetics started with the observation that both genetic a=
cultural systems seem to err towards the stable rather than display the
pure 'power law' periodicity shown by self-organising systems that do not=

contain a replicator. I feel there is much more to be unravelled here.

>IPI also can't help wondering how much contingency there was about the

BB That's a rather deep issue. One can imagine all sorts of things falli=
out differently. But which of those differences would affect the overall=

course of cultural evolution and which would not? It's a tough issue to
think about (which is why I usually don't).<

Agreed again, but the role of contingency in both styles of evolution nee=
to be at least thought about. I am not happy with pure 'Panglossianism'
[See Dennet or go back to Steve Gould's originals for those who have not
done so]. The whole field is IMO one of the areas that the memetics debat=
has to begin to address.

If Price
Active Personal Learning, Guildford UK

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