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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 524)...

    Is it possible that human culture evolves as do biological life-forms? It is well-known that some life-forms actually do overtake other life-forms so that there is an imbalance in a particular eco-system to the short-term favor of the aggressive life-form. So, isn''t human culture, which is, in a very real sense, our tribal "nest" also prone to these same short-term imbalances?

    ...and the response:

    I'm not quite sure what you're getting at in your question, because I'm not quite sure what the term "human culture" refers to. Culture is the sum total of what one generation transmits to the next, and that sum total has never been the same for the whole of humanity (so there has never been anything that could be identified as "human" culture). Five hundred years ago, for example, there was Hopi culture and Navajo culture (along with thousands of others). And in the present day, there is American culture and Chinese culture. If you mean the process of acculturation, it's hard to see how it COULD evolve; it's simply the process of transmitting what one generation knows to the next generation (by any means whatever: songs, stories, example). We have added to the means available for the transmission (with radio, television, the internet, and so on), but the process itself is the same.


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