Re: exogamy, kinship, and heterozygosity

Robert Snower (
Fri, 04 Oct 1996 04:47:28 GMT (Gerold Firl) wrote:

>In article <52uo9m$>,
>(Robert Snower) writes:

>|> Then why, if the problem was
>|> being so successfully dealt with, should incest, and incest
>|> prohibition, become a prevailing theme of the myths and literature of
>|> the historic culture for which these ancient societies were
>|> precursors? Why is it necessary to deal with this problem again, and
>|> then again, and in such elaborate fashion?

>|> Shapiro's answer is that the temptation of incest, along with its
>|> prohibition, was a primordial social construct, originally highly
>|> adaptive, accounting for the beginnings of human culture and society.
>|> This primordial construct evolved into what we now see displayed in
>|> myth, literature. Freudian, but entirely different from Freud's own
>|> anthropological theories, which people do not take seriously.

>Does that mean that cultures *promoted* incest, against the prevailing
>wind of instinct? I'm trying to think of examples, but drawing a blank;
>can you give examples? How would such a thing be done? It seems like
>most cultures teach children that incest is dangerous.

>Are you saying that primordial cultures promoted incest, but later
>turned against it? That seems like a difficult proposition to
>substantiate; what evidence supports such a view?

More Shapiro:
In the ordinary and adaptive course of events, the infant's devotion
to mother, brothers, sisters, cousins is diverted, in adulthood, to
mate and progeny. His, and his mate's, coefficients of relatedness to
his progeny are far higher than his coefficients of relatedness to his
siblings', and cousins', progeny. Thus his selfish genes make the
development of a cohesive, deep, sociality impossible: he will
compete, not cooperate, with his siblings and their progeny. The
adaptive value of sociality requires a remedy. The social
construction which solves the problem, and is therefore selected for,
is the incest temptation, so well recorded in myth and literature (and
psychoanalysis), always prohibited of fulfillment; i.e., a fictive
incest, generating a real, socially directed, devotion, and a real
exogamy, generating a fictive (phantasized), socially directed,

Best wishes. R. Snower