about what evolves

Sun, 15 May 1994 01:00:27 EDT


Frankly, from what I've read, I'm not sure *what* evolves, since whatever
happens consists of certain alleles rather than others becoming more numerous
within a population; so that over a sufficiently long period of elapsed time,
it would become a population of something slightly else. Or, it is entirely
possible for a great deal of selection to go on without much evolution. This
may be the more usual thing. Then, say the "punctuated equilibrium" people,
you get an awful lot of evolution in a much shorter time than was going on
during the slack season.
The hairsplitting over "fitness," "inclusive fitness," "adaptation, is it
or isn't it" has got some biologists confused, so why not me too. Suppose that
humans grew bigger and better brains than they really needed to in order to
become Top Species. Why, then, should they have evolved those brains as big
and high quality as they did?

This just occurred to me. Culture usually presupposes another culture,
since a People's sense of Peoplehood is embedded within a culture, and
Peoples are constituted as Peoples by other Peoples. It should follow that
a culture should be understood as Meaningfully Different from some other
culture; otherwise your culture cannot include a sense of having a culture
as part of the culture. Even if the cultures from which one's own is
meaningfully different use the same pots or weaving techniques or other
readily-copied technology that used to fool naive archeologists. We must
keep making culture all the time to sustain its meaningful difference as
well as its spurious sense of time-immemoriality and equally suspect sense
of uniqueness; yet we cannot make our culture alone.

Suppose they gave a culture and nobody came?

Daniel A. Foss