Re: Re[2]: Definition of Culture

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Sat, 7 Oct 1995 21:28:45 +1000

Bob Graber writes:
> G. Laden asks what it is about human culture that makes it different
> from primate behavior more generally. Many of us would answer
> "Nothing," provided only that the behavior is patterned, and appears to
> be acquired socially rather than biologically. When a patterned
> behavior varies between the societies within a species, as does, e.g.,
> Japanese macaque feeding behavior or chimp tool-using behavior, we
> appear to have full-fledged culture, not just "protoculture." The only
> way around this conclusion, I think, is the rear-guard action of
> defining culture as necessarily dependent on symbolizing. This is
> important for those who for some reason wish to maintain the impression
> of a qualitative gulf separating humans from the rest of nature.

For a good argument that human culture is fundamentally different from
primate "culture" (coupled with an argument that human creativity and
unthinking natural selection operate within the same design space!),
you might like to look at Daniel Dennett's _Darwin's Dangerous Idea_.
(I am currently contstructing a review of this at the moment.)

Danny Yee.