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Darwin Sex Status

Darwin Sex Status

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 473
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  • Book Info
    Darwin Sex Status
    Book Description:

    A challenging, engaging, and controversial approach to evolution and culture, Darwin, Sex, and Status offers intriguing insights into human behaviour and the forces that have shaped it through the millenia.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7372-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    This is a book about the dissolution of discontinuities between the social-behavioural and biological sciences. It explains the continuities among biological evolution, human psychology, conscious experience, and the societies and structures we build. It starts with genes and ends with cultures. Here is its framework.

    Theory and data must fit together at multiple levels if they are to be acceptable – they must be what I have elsewhere termedvertically integrated(Barkow, 1980a). Suppose I wish to understand the human hand. I may review the genetics of finger length and even the number of digits. I will want to look...

  5. Part One. Basic Theory

    • 2 Darwin and Genes
      (pp. 23-45)

      Order arises from disorder through natural processes. No invisible hand must insert each atom into its crystal lattice. No mathematically modelling engineer need calculate the wind-resistance of a finchʹs feathers. Trial-and-error learning, crystallization, and biological evolution are examples of naturally occurring, order-generating processes. Underlying them all, according to Donald T. Campbell (1960, 1965), is the more fundamental process ofblind variation and selective retention.

      Begin with a source of variants. Call them ideas, or pieces of a puzzle, or even genes. Now we need a set of retention criteria such that some of these variants will be retained and/or propagated,...

    • 3 Differing Interests: Deceit, Sex, Rivalry, Influence, and Altruism
      (pp. 46-78)

      This chapter summarizes the core ideas of human sociobiology. Its theme is that different organisms have different fitness interests, leading to selection for various kinds of conflict, compromise, and mutual manipulation. Readers already familiar with basic evolutionary theory need only skim this chapter. Those preferring a more full introduction, or seeking greater emphasis on (non-human) animal behaviour, may wish to consult Dawkins (1976), Barash (1982), Trivers (1985), or Wilson (1975a).

      Sociobiologyʹs fundamental tenet is inclusive fitness, the principle that individuals have been selected to maximize their genetic representation in future generations. Since each individualʹs complement of genes is unique, however,...

  6. Part Two. Mind and Awareness

    • 4 Self, Soul, Brain, Body, Mind
      (pp. 81-104)

      The review of basic sociobiology is finished now. This chapter and the one that follows it presents theintra-individual system,a sketch of the human mind as standing between genes and culture, mediating their interaction.¹

      This sketch of the mind cannot really begin until three issues are dealt with, the three issues that are the focus of this chapter: (1) our folk-psychology ideas of ʹwillʹ and responsibility; (2) the problem of Cartesian dualism or the ʹmind-body splitʹ; and (3) the disjunction between a social-science explanation in terms of beliefs, values, and intentions, and an explanation in terms of neurophysiological processes....

    • 5 Goals, Attention, Awareness
      (pp. 105-134)

      The preceding chapter gave us the beginnings of the intra-individual system and how it operates. We know about cognitive mapping of physical and social reality, and how it is related to self-awareness. We have left Cartesian dualism behind, and we understand that our folk psychology makes our intuitive ideas of how we arrive at decisions untrustworthy.

      The present chapter will complete the sketch of the human mind and leave us ready for the topic of culture. To the ideas of cognitive map and self-awareness from the preceding chapter we will now add the notions of (a) goals built into the...

  7. Part Three. Culture, Prestige, and Self-Esteem

    • 6 Culture: An Introduction
      (pp. 137-155)

      The boyʹs arms, sweeping through the fine, dry dust, made a soft sound. He was swimming, but that was probably not what had awakened me. Probably it had been the earnest beseeching of his father, who was trying to persuade Sarkin Rafi, King of the River, to dismount from the boy. No musicians had played the spiritʹs praise-song, and the boy had not been dancing for him. But sometimes a spirit will just choose to come, and the mount has little say in the matter. Eventually, the spirit agreed to leave and the boy fell into a deep sleep. The...

    • 7 Culture and the Intra-Individual System
      (pp. 156-178)

      Now we have defined culture and have a little understanding of how our species may have evolved the ability to create and transmit it. It is time to return to a question raised in chapter 5: What is the relationship between the information-processing of the intra-individual system and the socially transmitted and somewhat structured pool of information called ʹcultureʹ?

      To review some of the points made in chapter 5: The intra-individual system may tentatively but usefully be thought of as a mazeway or cognitive map, plus various specialized systems and subsystems. These systems process information of various kinds, and culture...

    • 8 Relative Standing, Prestige, and Self-Esteem
      (pp. 179-212)

      Status, image, social class, politics, wealth, power, competition, rivalry, envy, greed, ostentation, impression-management, boastfulness, display, pride, arrogance, hubris, pretension, importance, worth, respect, honour, self-esteem, reputation: our vocabulary gives us away. Human language is cluttered with terms that have relative standing at their core. We hunger for prestige, and much of our behaviour is dominated by this goal and its varied subgoals and subplans.

      The ubiquity of prestige-related behaviour makes that goal an appropriate test both for demonstrating the utility of the intra-individual-system approach presented in previous chapters and for illustrating the kind of ʹVertically integrated explanationʹ discussed in chapter 1....

    • 9 Prestige Processes in the Context of Culture
      (pp. 213-228)

      How do we apply evolutionary theory to culture? Some sociobiologists, as we will see in the next chapter, make the application tight, interpreting entire cultural institutions as almost a set of amplified strategies to enhance inclusive fitness. My own answer requires a series of multi-level, mutually compatible (vertically integrated) explanations that move from genes to neurophysiology to individual motivation to social interaction to sociology. In this effort, the goal is to demonstrate not the reduction of complex sociocultural phenomena to evolutionary biology but rather their compatibility with our evolved, fitness-enhancing, human psychology, itself the product of biological evolution:the social...

  8. Part Four. Alternative Approaches and Maladaptation

    • 10 Other Approaches to Gene-Culture Interrelationships
      (pp. 231-252)

      This bookʹs general framework has finally been presented. It is one emphasizing multi-level but mutually compatible theories of processes, in which we continually find that higher levels of organization generate properties not predicted by the lower levels. In the last chapter, we accounted for sociocultural phenomena as products of the interaction of individuals, whose behaviour could in turn be explained in terms of the intra-individual system, which in turn was a product of natural selection. But no account was of the ʹreduced toʹ or ʹnothing butʹ variety. Sitting between genetic evolution and culture was always the intra-individual system, that complex...

    • 11 Dual versus Unitary Evolution
      (pp. 253-292)

      This chapter continues the discussion of approaches that are complements of or alternatives to the intra-individual-system framework. It will focus on two theories that deal with genes and culture. Both Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson (1985) and Richard Alexander (1979) agree that the genes are our first system of inheritance. While Boyd and Richerson argue that culture is a second system of inheritance, Richard Alexander holds that culture may not usefully be dissociated from the inclusive-fitness strategies of individuals. We will be comparing both sets of arguments with those of Lumsden and Wilson (1981), and with the intra-individual-system framework presented...

    • 12 Maladaptation in Mind and Culture
      (pp. 293-322)

      Maladaptation is a crucial issue in the debate over the distance between ʹgenesʹ and ʹcultureʹ (that is, between theories of biological-evolution biology and theories of culturally patterned individual behaviour). If culture traits often are genetically maladaptive then there is obviously much distance between genes and culture; and the approach of Richard Alexander in particular (discussed in chapter 11) and those who, like him, seek to ʹexplainʹ cultural institutions by matching them with fitness-optimization models of individual behaviour, is often likely to be in error. Evidence of maladaptive cultural traits is thus evidence for the need for theories of culture and...

  9. Part Five. The Evolution of Human Sexuality

    • 13 Sexuality and Scenarios
      (pp. 325-350)

      Earlier chapters presented a theory of mind and of culture, and of how it is that both have aspects that at times may reduce rather than enhance genetic fitness. The present chapter and the one that follows it discuss how it was that our particular species may have evolved the capacity for culture in the first place. We will be discussing evolutionary scenarios – reconstructions of the selection pressures likely to have led to our species – and we will find that sex and the relationship between the sexes may have been central in human evolution.

      Why emphasize sexuality in...

    • 14 Aspects of Sexuality
      (pp. 351-372)

      If sexual selection was as important in human evolution as the preceding chapter argued, then the nature of our sexuality has much relevance for our theories and scenarios. Compatibility between scenarios and sexuality is the theme of this chapter. We begin with a topic often neglected in human sociobiology, sperm competition, and then move to subjects for which ample human literatures do exist: sexual jealousy, rape, incest, and homosexuality. The discussion of homosexuality will be limited to male homosexuality, and then further limited to the institutionalized form it takes in some societies in Melanesia. We will see that even when...

    • 15 Social Engineering
      (pp. 373-396)

      The final chapter is where, by tradition, the author attempts to demonstrate how all that went before can solve social problems, improve morality, make one a more effective competitor, or in some other manner contribute to making life better for us all. Now that we have a framework for understanding the evolution of the human mind and of culture, are we better off? Do we have the basis for a science of social engineering?

      ʹSocial engineeringʹ is a presumptuous goal, with a whiff of the totalitarian about it; but we all want to tinker and some of us want revolution....

  10. References
    (pp. 397-426)
  11. Name Index
    (pp. 427-434)
  12. Subject Index
    (pp. 435-453)