Culture as an Evolutionary Arena
William L. Benzon
Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 321-362, 1996
Culture is an evolutionary domain in which paradigms evolve through the replication and variation of memes and psychological traits. In biology genes flow in such a restricted way that there is a relatively transparent relationship between genealogy and taxonomy. In culture memes are borrowed freely between lineages so that a given paradigm may have contributions from many cultures. Further, under certain conditions cultures come into such intimate contact that the process of creolization produces new paradigms within a relatively few generations. Consequently cultural taxonomy is inherently more complex than biological taxonomy. Dynamically, over the long term culture exhibits an S-shaped growth curve which reflects the proliferation of memes within cultures. Perhaps the deepest issue in cultural evolution is the Gestalt switch which happens between the highest level of one cultural rank and the beginning of the next rank.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: culture, evolution, history, paradigm, meme, taxonomy, creolization
Date posted: January 9, 2010