Evolution and Culture

A Fyssen Foundation Symposium

Biological and cultural processes have evolved together, in a symbiotic spiral; they are now indissolubly linked, with human survival unlikely without such culturally produced aids as clothing, cooked food, and tools. The twelve original essays collected in this volume take an evolutionary perspective on human culture, examining the emergence of culture in evolution and the underlying role of brain and cognition. The essay authors, all internationally prominent researchers in their fields, draw on the cognitive sciences—including linguistics, developmental psychology, and cognition—to develop conceptual and methodological tools for understanding the interaction of culture and genome. They go beyond the "how"—the questions of behavioral mechanisms—to address the "why"—the evolutionary origin of our psychological functioning. What was the "X-factor," the magic ingredient of culture—the element that took humans out of the general run of mammals and other highly social organisms?

Several essays identify specific behavioral and functional factors that could account for human culture, including the capacity for "mind reading" that underlies social and cultural learning and the nature of morality and inhibitions, while others emphasize multiple partially independent factors—planning, technology, learning, and language. The X-factor, these essays suggest, is a set of cognitive adaptations for culture.

Table of Contents

  1. Series Foreword
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Preface: It was not there in the Big Bang, but . . . Pierre Jaisson
  4. 1. Introduction: The Evolution of Culture in a Microcosm

    Stephen C. Levinson

  5. Emergence of Culture in Evolution
  6. 2. Quantum Leaps in Evolution

    Claude Combes

  7. 3. The Emergence of Culture in the Context of Hominin Evolutionary Patterns

    Robert A. Foley

  8. 4. Interactions of Culture and Natural Selection among Pleistocene Hunters

    Christopher Boehm

  9. 5. Solving the Puzzle of Human Cooperation

    Robert Boyd and Peter J. Richerson

  10. 6. From Typo to Thinko: When Evolution Graduated to Semantic Norms

    Daniel Dennett

  11. 7. Conceptual Tools for a Naturalistic Approach to Cultural Evolution

    Dan Sperber

  12. Brain, Cognition, and Evolution
  13. 8. Brains, Cognition, and the Evolution of Culture

    R. I. M. Dunbar

  14. 9. The Evolution of Culture from a Neurobiological Perspective

    Wolf Singer

  15. 10. Uniquely Human Cognition Is a Product of Human Culture

    Michael Tomasello

  16. 11. Moral Ingredients: How We Evolved the Capacity to Do the Right Thing

    Marc D. Hauser

  17. 12. The Cultural and Evolutionary History of the Real Numbers

    C. R. Gallistel, Rochel Gelman, and Sara Cordes

  18. 13. Why Animals Do Not Have Culture

    David Premack and Marc D. Hauser

  19. Contributors
  20. Index