To understand the culture and cultural evolution we must abandon the atomized and anonymous social environment of neoclassical economics. Culture is a product and a cause of the socialized nature of human action. Examination of the phylogenetic and ontogenetic neural mechanisms that make socialization and culture possible reveals the ways that culture conserves cognitive resources and makes human interaction possible; and the reason that human culture—but not that of our closest relatives the chimpanzees—is capable of rapid evolution. Understanding the deep cognitive nature of culture explains the sometimes pathological outcomes of cultural evolution and how pathologies may be avoided. An understanding of three aspects of the nature of culture and cultural evolution was found necessary to get at these issues: (1) important components of culture are social constructs; (2) the contents of intentional mental states are insufficient by themselves to determine the meaning of those states—the brain provides the missing data necessary to determine to mean, and a significant portion of the data is a product of cultural evolution and learning. Following the lead of Searle, we called the mechanisms that provide the missing data Background; (3) the process by which culture is learned provides insight into its socially constructed nature, the missing data problem mentioned in (2), and intersubjective nature of human interaction.
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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