Tag Archives: cultural evolution

What is cumulative cultural evolution?

In recent years, the phenomenon of cumulative cultural evolution (CCE) has become the focus of major research interest in biology, psychology and anthropology. Some researchers argue that CCE is unique to humans and underlies our extraordinary evolutionary success as a … Continue reading

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The Ape that Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve

The Ape that Understood the Universe is the story of the strangest animal in the world: the human animal. It opens with a question: How would an alien scientist view our species? What would it make of our sex differences, … Continue reading

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Did social cognition evolve by cultural group selection?

Cognitive gadgets puts forward an ambitious claim: language, mindreading, and imitation evolved by cultural group selection. Defending this claim requires more than Heyes’ spirited and effective critique of nativist claims. The latest human “cognitive gadgets,” such as literacy, did not spread through cultural group selection. … Continue reading

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The Cultural Evolution of Thinking

Cognitive gadgets are distinctively human cognitive mechanisms – such as imitation, mind reading, and language – that have been shaped by cultural rather than genetic evolution. New gadgets emerge, not by genetic mutation, but by innovations in cognitive development; they are specialised cognitive … Continue reading

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Narrative, cognition, and cultural evolution

Drawing on non-Darwinian cultural-evolutionary approaches, the paper develops a broad, non-representational perspective on narrative, necessary to account for the narrative “ubiquity” hypothesis. It considers narrativity as a feature of intelligent behaviour and as a formative principle of symbolic representation (“narrative proclivity”). Th e narrative … Continue reading

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Cumulative Cultural Evolution within Evolving Population Structures

Our species’ ecological success is supported by our ability to selectively learn beneficial social information, resulting in the accumulation of innovations over time. Population size affects the social information available to subsequent generations of learners and constrains cumulative culture. Population … Continue reading

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Why Humanist Values Will Prevail: A Cultural Evolutionary View

Our geopolitical world seems increasingly unstable, and some see this instability as a threat to Humanist values. But I’m optimistic that these values will ultimately prevail. Before I justify that optimism, let me clarify what I mean by Humanist values. … Continue reading

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Cultural Evolution, Insight, and Fundamental Theories of Consciousness

To answer the question of whether or not evolution is (or could be) conscious, we must first consider what makes something conscious. Approaches to consciousness can be divided into two camps. Reductionist approaches attempt to explain how consciousness could arise … Continue reading

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How Culture Makes Us Smarter

Cumulative culture gives us knowledge and tools far beyond our individual powers. Cumulative culture doesn’t just gift our species technology that none of us could have invented; it literally makes us smarter. The products of cumulative culture include not only … Continue reading

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The emergence of hierarchical structure in human language

We propose a novel account for the emergence of human language syntax. Like many evolutionary innovations, language arose from the adventitious combination of two pre-existing, simpler systems that had been evolved for other functional tasks. The first system, Type E(xpression), … Continue reading

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