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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 241)...

    I have a question that concerns evolution, culture and Richard Dawkins. I think it a given that a VERY important human adaptation is to modify the enviroment to suit our needs. In this sense then, culture can have a direct effect on a biological species' success. A leaver cultural adaptation is sustainable and therefore successful while a taker cultural adaptation is totalitarion with its relationship to its environment. I would like to know Quinn's thoughts about cultures place in evolution. I would like to know what Quinn thinks about the ideas of Richard Dawkins and about sociobiology and neo-darwinism in general.

    ...and the response:

    It's my assumption that humans were born cultural beings, so culture was central to human evolution. For example, natural selection would favor hunting groups that communicated well over groups that communicated poorly. Natural selection would favor groups that passed on to their children 100% of what they learned over groups that passed on to their children only 50% of what they learned.

    Many authorities in the field quibble with some of Dawkins's ideas. Not being an authority in the field, I'm not really in a position to enter these controversies. As my mention of his work in the dedication of MY ISHMAEL indicates, I've learned a lot from him.


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