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The Imagined World Made Real By H. C. Plotkin

The Imagined World Made Real
by H. C. Plotkin

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Can the insights of science provide a proper understanding of human culture, or must we leave the analysis of culture to the so-called human sciences: anthropology; psychology; sociology; and so forth? This text attempts to bridge the gulf between the human and the biological sciences.
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The Imagined World Made Real Summary

The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture by H. C. Plotkin

Human beings are fundamentally creatures of culture. The ability to share knowledge, beliefs and skills is the defining characteristic of our species, and one of the most complex phenomena on earth. Our lives are dictated by the products of culture - such as marriage, money, nationhood - and even wars are fought over it. Science itself is a construction of culture and natural sciences are the most powerful forms of knowledge we have: from explanations of the origins of the universe to the molecular structure of life. So can the natural sciences be used to understand culture - or should this be left to the "human sciences": psychology, sociology and anthropology? Here, Henry Plotkin shows that natural science, in particular evolutionary theory, is in fact essential to exploring our culture. He illustrates how nature and nurture have intertwined in the development of human intelligence from its earliest beginnings. And how by fusing the biological and social we can achieve a "natural science of culture": one that reveals human culture as the extension of processes that are actually billions of years old.

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About H. C. Plotkin

Professor of Psychobiology at University College London, author of two previous Penguins: DARWIN MACHINES AND THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE and EVOLUTION IN MIND.

Table of Contents

Marrying the biological and social sciences: culture, social constructions and natural science; possible frameworks; evolution and the theory of evolution; alternative theories to NeoDarwinism; how good a theory is evolutionary theory?; suggested readings. The evolution of intelligence: why intelligence ever evolved at all; the limits of reductionism; intelligence unlimited?; Fodor poses a problem; human intelligence as adaptation or exaptation; suggested readings. The emergence of culture: broadening the picture; the trouble with "levels"; a solution to the levels problem; suggested readings. Naturalizing culture the process way: the puzzle of war; universal Darwinism; modelling co-evolution; the "new" science of memetics; suggested readings. Causal mechanisms: a general framework for understanding psychological mechanism; what those mechanisms may be; concepts, schemata and other higher-order knowledge structures; imitation; language; theory of mind; social force; a single magical mechanism? suggested readings. Individuals, groups and culture: the behavioural ecology of group living; the units and levels of selection; vehicles, interactors and the revival of group selection; niche construction; suggested readings. The strangeness of culture: the construction of social reality; a sociological turn; social representations; cultural psychology; a tentative conclusion; suggested readings.

Additional information

The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture by H. C. Plotkin
H. C. Plotkin
Penguin Press Science S.
Used - Very Good
Penguin Books Ltd
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
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