Sunday, 31 July 2011

Contrasting culture and biology makes no sense

Lots of people in this field contrast "cultural evolution" and "biological evolution". Or, more generally, they contrast "culture" and "biology".

The problem with this is that culture is part of biology. Biology is the study of life, and culture is part of that. The idea that culture is not part of biology is a kind of superorganicism - and it is mostly just wrong.

So: biological evolution includes cultural evolution - and biology includes culture.

If people find they want a term for the non-cultural evolution of ordinary organisms there are a variety of possibilities:

  • Nuclear evolution;
  • Organic evolution;
  • Cellular evolution;

...but please try to avoid saying "biological evolution" in this context. The term "biological evolution" must refer to the whole thing - including culture.

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