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J Genet. 2015 Mar;94(1):155-68.

A comparison of biological and cultural evolution.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Genetics, Department of Biology, University of Turku, FI-20014 Turku, Finland. petter.portin@utu.fi.

Abstract

This review begins with a definition of biological evolution and a description of its general principles. This is followed by a presentation of the biological basis of culture, specifically the concept of social selection. Further, conditions for cultural evolution are proposed, including a suggestion for language being the cultural replicator corresponding to the concept of the gene in biological evolution. Principles of cultural evolution are put forward and compared to the principles of biological evolution. Special emphasis is laid on the principle of selection in cultural evolution, including presentation of the concept of cultural fitness. The importance of language as a necessary condition for cultural evolution is stressed. Subsequently, prime differences between biological and cultural evolution are presented, followed by a discussion on interaction of our genome and our culture. The review aims at contributing to the present discussion concerning the modern development of the general theory of evolution, for example by giving a tentative formulation of the necessary and sufficient conditions for cultural evolution, and proposing that human creativity and mind reading or theory of mind are motors specific for it. The paper ends with the notion of the still ongoing coevolution of genes and culture.

PMID:
25846892
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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