Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris

By Marvin Harris

This booklet demanding situations those that argue that we will swap the realm through altering the best way humans imagine. Harris exhibits that irrespective of how strange a people's habit could appear, it usually stems from concrete social and fiscal stipulations.

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Additional resources for Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture

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Instead both are caused by a drop in atmospheric pressure. The same might be true of a “cultural” phenomenon like the resemblance of young people’s food preferences to those of their parents. Perhaps children learn what to eat by observing their parents’ behavior and mimicking it. Such a scenario suggests that tastes for particular foods are memes being duplicated through social learning. But alternatively the correlation in consumption habits between generations could be due to a universal, inborn Set of taste buds that bias the learning of each person as they acquire a knowledge of what foods taste good through individual trial and error.

We need to run through these theoretical alternatives to see if we can eliminate any of them on other grounds besides adherence to the Darwinian program. The challenge faced by memetics, as one of the applicants for the job of explaining cultural evolution, will come into much better focus once we have distinguished these alternatives. SOCIOBIOLOGY The first “modern” evolutionary theory of society and culture to arise was sociobiology. O. Wilson’s authoritative book, whose title, Sociobiology, gave the discipline its name.

Basically the brain is an invisible intermediary and can be ignored because it does its job perfectly, translating the needs of the organism into the optimally correct behavioral response. The presumption is simply that whatever is required, selection will have produced it. A considerable number of studies show that various human behaviors do tend to maximize some measure of fitness, as exacted by the tenets of sociobiology. Typically the empirical test is whether some characteristic correlates well with the number of offspring an individual has, which is taken as a good approximation of fitness.

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