Re: evolution everywhere?

Shannon Adams (
Tue, 10 Sep 1996 08:30:26 -0700

Bryant wrote:
> In article <>,
> Shannon Adams <> wrote:
> >> Gerold wrote:
> >> 1. Evolutionary perspectives provide greater explanatory and
> >> predictive power in understanding human culture than pure narrative
> >> modes,
> >I really got a good laugh when I read Gerold's first sentence of number one.
> > I really don't think anyone has been able to *predict* how a culture will
> >change.
> The comparative method allows predictions about the distributions of
> traits (be they biological adaptations or elements of culture). This is
> clearly the sort of prediction Gerold refers to.

That's my point, (I think ;). I don't believe you can predict the
distribution of a trait/cultural element. How could someone 3000 years ago
predict the distribution of platonism/aristolian logic/even
christianity/Judaism? Like I said, looking backward we can see how each of
the cultural elements spread, but I seriously doubt anyone could predict
them. Like I said before, I personally, and I thought anthropology at large,
is not about *predicting*

> It seems to be normal human behavior to laughingly dismiss novel ideas.
> Just out of high school, I found the notion that the epidemeology of
> some diseases could be reconstructed from 400 year old bones laughable.

Thanks for the patronage. It's good to feel young again ;)

> >This also could be an incredibly naive
> >question but What about free choice? I think that element of human
> >motivation cannot be ignored.
> Proximal motivations (for example, emotions) should not be ignored, I agree.
> They are themselves phenomena deserving study. How do you perceive
> biologists ignoring decisional processes?

Again, this could be incredibly naive, but where does the choice/reaction of
the individual (not the individual as a representation of a group pattern)
fit into evolution (especially social evolution)? I thought that in
evolution we were all being molded, for lack of a better word, into a being
that is most fit to exist in whatever environment we exist? Is that wrong?

> >Shannon
> Bryant