Sunday, April 03, 2005

memes or genes

Keep tossing the thought back and forth--what made human beings so bloody successful. Was it something that happened in their genes?--That's what all the anthrop/archaeologists are out there looking for. Or was it a new meme instead? I'm starting to lean toward the meme thing...just for fun...
Maybe that's what the Cain and Abel story is really all about. An ancient collective memory of that ultimate pre-historic betrayal when one member of the happy proto-human collective reasoned out, while scraping the hide off the latest Mammoth kill, that hey, these tool things work out pretty good against animals. My other proto-humans are a lot smaller/slower/blunter than most of the things I kill. Maybe if I bashed a few of them about I wouldn't have to do so much of the washing up. Pick up jaw bone of wild proto-ass cunningly decked out with the lastest in pressure-flaked technology and start wailing on the bro's. A new cave bear robe and a fine helping of roasted Mammoth testes later, our new despot experiences some remorse. Maybe he shouldn't have pounded his relatives around like that--they were family after all...but what about those hairy low brow guys they'd seen sneaking through the bushes just over the ridge? A few beneficent pats on the bruises and they take the whole show on the road. A million-and-a-half years or so later...take a look around...see anything familiar???

Okay, I've had my fun, and I probably need to start getting more sleep--but it has seemed to me for a long time, that as a species we have largely removed ourselves from the normal processes of evolutionary selection and adaptation. Our evolution seems to be mostly about cultural practices, beliefs, systems, thoughts--memes. So does this imply that cultural diversity is as essential as genetic diversity to our survival as a species? If yes, then we need to direct far greater resources and attention to preserving it....(Somebody has probably written a thesis or a book on culture creation and conscious evolution, but it's new to me...if anyone knows of a good link or two, please let me know...)

1 comment:

Keira said...

Did you read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, Wendy? It was a big book a few years ago and deservedly so. It asks
"what makes some human societies so successful?" and then builds up a case that demolishes the usual, racist theorizing. The ultimate causes it explores are more to do with food than conciousness...but grab a snack and enjoy. It's fun to read. Google it and you'll come up with a ton of references and reviews.