Nous -'knack' in scouse? Nous: Greek 'mind' some use? Nous: we -French- oui? Oooh. Life -don't talk to me about life: me with this pain down the diodes in my left side ... Here's not-nearly-random-enough loggings of what feeds my promiscuous curiosity. Your pay-off is some useful[?] links and provocative thoughts but also more insight than you may care on my thought-processes.

22 June 2013

Cultural products' evolutionary roots

It's no surprise that evolutionary psychologist should give attention to what essentially is the idea of seven stories. And I don't gainsay the idea that our cultural narratives should have evolutionary reflexes. But I'm not sure really that this is saying very much reall:
"Romance novels, pop songs and movie plotlines always come back to the Darwinian themes of survival (injuries and deaths), reproduction (courtships, sexual assaults, reputational damage), kin selection (the treatment of one's progeny), and altruistic acts (heroic attempts to save a stranger's life). Movies, television shows, song lyrics, romance novels, collective wisdoms, and countless other cultural products are a direct window to our biologically based human nature," says Saad.
 I'm not sure that anyone would be surprised, really, that we would tell stories about things that concern us and find interest and drama in the interplay of the themes arising from them. What is intriguing is smuggling in 'altruistic acts' as if they are Darwinian themes. I tend to think that altruistic acts are rather a challenge or puzzle to Darwinian selection and our fascination with it seems rather to be astray of so-called evolutionary concerns.
It's not just cultural products that demonstrate the evolutionary roots of what Saad terms "Homo consumericus." From the food we eat to the clothing we buy, we're always under the influence of evolution.
 In my previous sentence, I wrote 'so-called evolutionary concerns' because I question whether we can be under the influence of evolution. 'Evolution' doesn't exist in the way that this sentence seems to say. 'It' is not something that influences: evolution is the collective name we give to a bunch of things that tend to generate phenotypical changes over time via genetic changes. So we may be under the influence of sexual attraction, fear or jealousy but that isn't evolution. Such things may generate evolution, eventually, but they aren't evolution. So we aren't really under the influence of evolution, merely forces and events that may produce changes in time. Meanwhile, we are still going to tell stories about things that concern us: attraction, dislike, fear, loathing, bravery, joy, campanionship and, yes, concern for others as well as for ourselves. These things have convoluted relationships with what may result in survival or reproducible traits. Our cultural values may or may not align with genetic traits' 'interests' and so while our story-telling may reflect things that may have effects in evolutionary terms, these effects may not be straight-forwardly so. Sometimes 'evolution' is now under our influence.
 Big movies and other cultural products have evolutionary roots:

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