Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge - The Fitness of Human Nature Summary & Analysis

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The Fitness of Human Nature Summary and Analysis

Human nature involves patterns in mental development while connecting genes to culture. It can be viewed as the evolution of the epigenetic rules. Culture determines genes that underlie human nature. The brain decides what happens to the genes that prescribed it. Some brains make better choices and are more fit for survival. Culture as part of human existence is influenced by human action and genes, while it also influences such actions as well.

The epigenetic rules can be cross-cultural and predispose to invent cultural conventions, such councils or ceremonies. Genetic evolution prepares the brain to respond equally to all experiences through biased mental development. Behavioral genes produce behaviors that assure Darwinian fitness, such as kin selection, where relatives care most deeply for their closest relatives, parental investment, where parents invest in their offspring to increase their fitness, mating strategy, where women are made available to men competing for female egg in most societies to assure offspring.

Status connotes significance through rank, class or wealth so that men with higher significance can produce more offspring. Territorial expansion assures that limited resources are under control. Those who can control territory in such circumstances can pass more genes to future generations. If resource control is not required, territorial control is not necessary. Wars are the products of genes and culture and can be avoided if their interaction with contexts in which they evolve are understood.

The genetic fitness mean that widely distributive cultural traits produce advantage to the genes that predisposed them. In this way traits that are widely distributed are adaptive. Despite various weaknesses in this hypothesis the natural consilience signifies the connection between heredity and culture.

Genetic fitness is tested through incest avoidance tendencies. Societies avoid sex between siblings and between parents and children due to the genetic defects that such practices produce. The human brain evolves to defy incest. The lethal genes of chromosomes may cause the death of an infant if both chromosomes have a lethal gene at a site. Similar situations exist in plants and animals. Even when children are adopted and raised as siblings, they retain their relations as that of brothers and sisters. Social taboos render incest punishable by law. Only some societies such as Egypt and Rome supported incest. Beliefs that incest causes adverse effects on children is shared by the Lapps in Scandinavia, The Tikopian Polinesians, the Kapuku in New Guinea, and the Toradja of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Some evidence by Durham purports that most motifs and myths in societies convey that incest has beneficial effects because it produces giants and heroes, but also views these offspring as abnormal.

This section contains 451 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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