Evolutionary Thoughts

Giacobbe John (Catalinus@AOL.COM)
Sat, 9 Sep 1995 01:47:57 -0400

Sorry for any reposts that appear, but some overlap seemed

Evolutionary Theory in Anthropology and Archaeology.
Evolutionary theory has played a seminal role in
anthropological and archaeological theory since the development
of the discipline. Most recent definitions of culture include an
evolutionary perspective, such as Binford's view that "Culture is
all those means whose forms are not under direct genetic control
which serve to adjust individuals and groups within their
ecological communities". Dunnell considers that modern
evolutionary biology provides an explanatory framework for the
processes of cultural change, but that it cannot "be applied
unamended and uncritically to cultural phenomena, be they
ethnographic or archaeological". I would like to begin a
discussion that would work towards a synthesis of the
relationships and applications of evolutionary theory in modern
anthropological theory and practice.
I believe Darwinian evolutionary theory can be incorporated
into an explanatory framework, possibly even as a paradigm, for
cultural processes, and it is eminently qualified to give
empirical significance to the archaeological and anthropological
record. I would accept the theoretical premise that culture is
an extrasomatic character that is effected by, and responds to,
selective pressures in the environment. Many questions remain,
such as the role of the mechanisms of social learning and
transmission on the general Darwinian fitness of the hominids.
The development of an evolutionary paradigm may place
anthropology and archaeology in the position to making genuine
contributions to Western thought that go beyond what happened

John A. Giacobbe