The Evolution of Cultural Entities

The Evolution of Cultural Entities

Michael Wheeler, John Ziman, and Margaret A. Boden

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780197262627

Publisher: British Academy

Abstract

Ever since Charles Darwin, scholars have noted that cultural entities such as languages, laws, firms, and theories seem to ‘evolve’ through sequences of variation, selection and replication, in many ways just like living organisms. This book considers whether this comparison is ‘just a metaphor’, or whether modern evolutionary theory can help us to understand the dynamics of different cultural domains. The ‘evolutionary paradigm of rationality’ has a significant role to play throughout the human sciences, but raises complex issues in every cultural context where it is applied. By fostering discussion between scholars from a wide range of research traditions, this book aims to influence the evolution of all of them.