Is culture learned behavior?

John L. McCreery (jlm@TANUKI.TWICS.CO.JP)
Wed, 2 Feb 1994 10:49:18 JST

To me calling culture "learned" behavior begs as many questions as it answers.
I recall many years ago reading a delightful book on the Evolution of primate
behavior by Allison Jolly. The bit I offer here is her observation vis-a-vis
language learning and her three children. One, she said was an obvious
Skinnerian, who started with babbling and gradually modified what he said.
One was a Chomskian, who said nothing at all until he began to speak in
fully formed sentences. One was a Piagetian whose competence seemed to advance
in clearly defined stages. With notions of "learning" themselves so unsettled,
I need to know what sense of "learned" behavior is meant before I can even
begin to judge what the proposition "culture=learned behavior" means. For what
it's worth, of the alternatives offered so far, Graber's strikes me as far
the most useful. Both "learned behavior" and "mental images" are far too
vague. Cheers, John McCreery