Cultural Evolution: Literary History, Popular Music, Cultural Beings, Temporality, and the Mesh

79 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2015

Date Written: January 21, 2015

Abstract

Culture is implemented in a material and biological substrate but has a distinct ontology and its phenomena belong to a distinct order of temporality. The evolution of culture proceeds by random variation among coordinators, the cultural parallel to biological genes, and selective retention of phantasms, the cultural parallel to biological phenotypes. Taken together phantasms and a package or envelope of coordinators constitute a cultural being. In at least the case of 19th century American and British novels, cultural evolution has a direction, as demonstrated by the analytical work of Matthew Jockers (Macroanalysis 2013). While we can think of cultural evolution as a phenomenon that happens in history, it is at the same time a force that influences human life. It is thus a force IN history. This is illustrated by considering the history of the European novel from the 19th century and into the 20th century and in the evolution of popular musical styles in 20th century American music, in which interaction between African American and European American populations has been important. Ultimately, the evolution of culture can be thought of as the evolution of mind.

Keywords: cultural evolution, macroanalysis, culture, digital humanities, description, novel, music, 19th century, 20th century

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Cultural Evolution: Literary History, Popular Music, Cultural Beings, Temporality, and the Mesh (January 21, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2553278 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2553278

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