Re: exogamy, kinship, and heterozygosity

Robert Snower (
Sat, 05 Oct 1996 03:46:53 GMT (Gerold Firl) wrote:

>In article <5324sq$>,
> (Robert Snower) writes:

>|> (Gerold Firl) wrote:

>|> >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,
>|> devotion.

>If I understand correctly, shapiro is saying that unmodified kin
>selection would result in a parent being devoted to her children, but
>only half as devoted to neices and nephews, and even less devoted to
>cousins and their children, and hardly caring at all about total


> The myth of forbidden incest would then function to
>artificially boost the strength of outlying kinship ties - that doesn't
>seem necessary. The pattern of progressively decreasing loyalty to more
>remote relatives, friends, and neighbors seems exactly like the pattern
>of sociality found among humans; why the need for any hypothetical
>incest temptation?

No. If, like the hero of the Oedipus myth, one hypothesizes he had
married his mother, then one also hypothesizes he is the father of her
children, so that he has hypothesized a .75 coefficient of
relationship with his real brothers and sisters. Then he favors his
siblings to his own real children, with whom he has only a .50
coefficient, following the same route to sociality taken by the
insects. Loyalty to his own family now yields in priority to loyalty
to his social group. His hypothesis thus entails that he, the son, is
also the father, and his own ancestral ghost, with no outsider
involved in his mother's conception, to render it less than

Best wishes. R. Snower