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- 21 08 2001 - 00:26 - katatonik

Not a one-way road

“Culture, the accumulated totality of such patterns, is not just an ornament of human existence but – the principal basis of its specificity – an essential condition for it.
Within anthropology some of the most telling evidence for such a position comes from recent advances in our understanding of what used to be called the descent of man: the emergence of Homo sapiens out of his general primate background. Of these advances three are of critical importance: (1) the discarding of a sequential view of the relations between the physical evolution and the cultural development of man in favor of an overlap; (2) the discovery that the bulk of the biological changes that produced modern man out of his most immediate progenitor’s took place in the central nervous system and most especially in the brain; (3) the realization that man is in physical terms, an incomplete, an unfinisbed, animal; that what sets him off most graphically from nonmen is less his sheer ability to learn (great that is) than how much and what particular sorts of things he has to learn before he is able to function at all.”

Clifford Geertz, “The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man.” In: The Interpretation of Cultures. Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

This quote was brought to you by me reading this article (in German), reporting research results according to which cultural patterns leave traces in the human genetic substance – the genetic makeup of subsequent generations in Northern Thai villages was affected by whether the husband moved into the wive’s village or vice versa.

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