Wednesday, July 30, 2008
WNYC Soundbite: Why A Cultural Darwin Is Needed
I found this to be pretty engaging. Basically talks about the need for someone to come along and do for the study of culture what Darwin did for the study of genetics. It then starts to go off into population growth and the like, but its still worth a listen. The person being interviewed is Paul Ehrlich, a professor at Stanford University.
There are some points brought up here that I feel would be great for discussion. One of them would be the premise of cultural evolution to begin with. As Ehrlish said, culture in many ways is always being re-written, yet there are certain patterns in culture that have a tendency to remain unwavering. And you can't analyze one culture on its own - sooner or later you'll have to observe its interaction with other cultures around it. All of which may lead a person down an endless line of research.
Which is why I just love social sciences.
Another part I found to be really good is that it brings up culture and the environment's relationship with one another. I personally feel that they're highly interconnected. Especially ancient cultures that have long since ran their course. For example, I'm right now re-reading The Odyssey by Homer and in it you can see how much the location of where their world is centered around plays a role in their culture. You have deities for local bodies of water, the material their weaponry was crafted from, etc.
The audio clip can serve as a nice stepping stone for going deeper into the the topics it (sadly) touched upon very quickly. With that said, what do you guys think about what Ehrlish brought up?