Cultural selection - Electronic book available for discussion

Agner Fog (
Fri, 30 Aug 1996 19:35:14 +0100

Allow me to introduce a new interdisciplinary theory for cultural change.
This theory has important consequences for several branches of science,
and therefore needs to be discussed in a broad forum.

In order to facilitate this discussion, I have published my theory as an
electronic book and made it available at:

Abstract of the book:
Cultural phenomena are subject to a selection process resembling natural
selection due to the fact that some phenomena are more likely to be copied
than others. There are many fundamental differences between biological
evolution and cultural selection, however, so you cannot draw conclusions
by analogy from one process to the other.

Unlike traditional evolutionist thinkers, I do not infer that cultural
selection always will lead in the same direction (called 'progress').
Rather, I have found that cultural selection may lead in different
directions depending on the external conditions.

In a militant environment, where war or threat of war is common, the
society will develop towards a pronouncedly hierarchic organization
characterized by a strict discipline. Individual freedom is restricted
because ressources of the individual (time, energy, material possessions)
must be heavily taxed because they are needed to strengthen the group.

In an isolated or sparsely populated environment, where warfare is
unlikely or impossible, the development will go in the opposite direction:
You will se an egalitarian society where individualism and tolerance
prevails. Here, individuals are believed to live for their own sake,
rather than for the sake of the community.

I am introducing the term 'regal' for the former type of society, and
'kalyptic' for the latter.

The absolutely regal or absolutely kalyptic society does not exist. You
should think of a graduated scale representing varying degrees of regality
or kalypticity, rather than a polarization into ideal types or extremes.

I have found that the regal/kalyptic (r/k-) dimension has a strong
influence on many areas of cultural life: Religion, philosophy, world-
view, and political principles are gradually developing in the direction
which is most compatible with the position of the society on the r/k-
scale. Interestingly, also the artistic style and music preferences of the
population are strongly influenced by these factors. There seems to be a
psychological mechanism which makes people prefer the style of art and
music which is most congruent with the political structure, philosophy,
and world-view of their social environment. Also the sexual behavior of
the population is influenced: In a regal society the production of
children is much higher than in a kalyptic society.

The mechanisms behind all these processes are fairly complicated. You will
find them explained in my book.

Please tune in your web-browser at:


read my book, and give your opinion. I want to get a discussion going in
the relevant newsgroups and mailing lists.

I am aware that my cultural r/k-theory has important political
consequences. Please keep the political and scientific arguments
completely separate.

Agner Fog, Ph.D.