I reckon this might be the first in a set of idle thoughts that I am pursuing. For too long now I try to discuss these things and throw some ideas out there for consideration, but lets face it – this is not the world where an unemployed nobody in the Midwest can be heard in any fashion to be taken seriously, particularly when that person does not have the requisite letters behind his name. I don’t claim that these ideas will be entirely unique or interesting to more than a few. I am very much interested in hearing other peoples thoughts and ideas on any concepts proposed here. If you have any reference material to be read I will be happy to read it but for the moment much of what will come out of this will be spewing from my head. Please keep this in mind with any comments you might have.
I have been pouring through the internet today, trying to find some articles or mention of this idea. Maybe I’m just not great at internet searching. I’m pretty sure it has to be out there. But this goes back to the age old philosophical question of nature versus nurture. Of course I hate the versus nature of these arguments and think that any time we see a versus in an argument there is something wrong, fundamentally, with our premise.
Culture is genetics. There. I said it. I’m sure it’s been said elsewhere and probably better but I’m going to go through with it because, well, that’s the point of this whole blog article.
What I mean by that is that culture, insofar as it is the blueprint by which we gauge our lives and activities as well as the prism through which we look, is in fact the natural adaptation. Genetics is simple biology. Though I don’t doubt the necessity and biological imperative of genetics in describing and delineating genetic diversity, the sole characteristic that made humans an adaptive being capable of dominating the world as much as it has is culture and without a valid study of culture itself AS the genetic principle we’re going to always be at odds with the nature vs. nurture question. Which really is a dumb question.
I guess what I mean by this – and it isn’t so shocking – is that every biological equivalent has been supplanted in one sense or another by culture and its economics. Where animals in the wild develop plumage or whatnot as reproductive adaptations and enticements we have developed dynamic equivalents in a very genetic sense but on an economic scale. Any anthropologist worth their salt can point out a thousand different cultural artifacts in human civilizations that stand in for what biology cannot. Granted biology still plays its part but it must be said that in terms of adaptive equivalents it takes a more than back seat role. Instead of plumage we have preferential body types, shoes, thread count of sheets, monetary economic affluence displays, all of which we know to be dynamic and dependent upon sub cultural preference. Basically we choose – much as an animal might – the traits we wish but our choices aren’t based on standard biological imperative or preference.
The genetics of a culture are mutated rapidly, but with a similar set of dynamic parameters – essentially the same things we would study in animal behavior. All of the qualities that we think of as adaptive in a ethnozooligical sense are represented by the subsets of our ethnic diversity, nationality, culture. If I use the word culture one more time you can shoot me. I mean I hope this is fairly easy to see. I’m so certain this idea isn’t original that I actually feel foolish talking about it – like I’m a three year old trying to describe the sun or worse a teenager trying to explain why their shoes are cool. The trouble is we have selected genetics as the signpost for human decision much in the same way we once looked at phrenology. Not saying, of course, that they are one and the same. All I am trying to say is that encoded DNA is not the only, or even the most important, qualifier in understanding human adaptation. We must seek to understand what and how decisions (and decision making)
All of these things are hinted at when you look at the study of adaptations in natural populations but looking at biological evolution doesn’t explain the predominance of humanity over the globe and almost all of its available habitats. The adaptation, clearly, that matters more than anything to human habitability is its culture (bang bang) which is dynamic enough to explain this exodus from humble origins and not particularly auspicious biological beginnings.
Lets face it – alone we’re little more than an average meal for any predator of significant size. I would argue that it all began from the earliest banding together of the human species for survival and just as any evolutionary principle proceeds it became the primary adaptive attribute without which we would not have survived as a species.
Clearly I suck at writing papers like this. This is just a start – the product of trying to spit a whole bunch of stuff out in one go which won’t work. So where do I start? Any ideas? Hmmm…. I guess I should have thought about it a little more completely before setting stuff to print. I suppose it should start with a discussion of the principles of adaptation. I’ll work on that. Must do some more research.