Tag Archives: observation

Mother Nature VS Mothering: food for Thought

These are other peoples understanding and arguments about this controverisal debate.  Read these Nature vs Nurture articles and see where you stand on the issues of biology and psychology influences.

http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i04/04b00701.htm

http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/psychology/nature_nurture.html

http://home.att.net/~xchar/tna/ledoux.htm

What is the Nature/Nurture dichotomy? Is it helpful to discuse and what do you think?

Nature is the biological and physical aspects of human development programmed into people and will not change through education, culture or outside means.  Nurture is the cultural and behavioral knowledge and experiences a person is bombarded with through watching and interacting with others around them.  The human act of learning from others and ones environment is strong enough to change a person’s outcome within the world.  These forms of human development have been placed against each other, as the “classic dichotomy” between chemical reactions of the body and chemical reactions of the care one receives.

It is like science vs. sociology when in fact they are not as different as they try to be.  They are both a part of being human and a living species.  Biologically and socially, humans are linked to the need for social interaction for survival of the species through learned improvements.  In truth, the human development would not be important enough without the dichotomy being such a close fight.  I would say that if you behavior that humans can learn and change, they “evolve”, differently enough to make what they have learned seem biological, even to the point where it could evolve to a biological change, promoting new learned behaviors, which continue the cycle. 

 

It is a circle of human development both nature and nurture working together to created each other.  It might be as useful to ask another classic dichotomy: what came first, the chicken or the egg?

 

I think people needed to understand the dichotomy and see both sides of the coin to be able to decide where they stand on the issue.  These types are both within biological and cultural anthropology in how it is applied.  These different angles of application of anthropology have value points that help make important decisions for which a choice should go. 

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Article: Cultural-Cleopatra’s Cosmetics And Hammurabi’s Heineken: Name Brands Far Predating Modern Capitalism

This article talks about commodity brands and the debates the origins possibly not coming form the western civilization.  The article blends cultural and archaeological anthropology together to arrive at the conclusion of where fashionable name brands started.  I find it interesting how fashion and brands have been cultural important for centuries, based on this article.  This brings to mind a different observation about fashion and style in different cultures and the social significances and labels that seeming become attached.  The example that I have observed is the fashion clash of Europeans and the tourists.  But then again, outsiders to a culture never look like they real fit in, something about them causes them to stick out.

The article comes across as a think piece.  So read it and think about the connections it has to what you have noticed or read, it could be anthropological without you even realizing it.  Enjoy.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 19, 2008) — From at least Bass Ale’s red triangle–advertised as “the first registered trademark”–commodity brands have exerted a powerful hold over modern Western society. Marketers and critics alike have assumed that branding began in the West with the Industrial Revolution. But a pioneering new study in the February 2008 issue of Current Anthropology finds that attachment to brands far predates modern capitalism, and indeed modern Western society. 

In “Prehistories of Commodity Branding,” author David Wengrow challenges the widespread assumption that branding did not become an important force in social and economic life until the Industrial Revolution. Wengrow presents compelling evidence that labels on ancient containers, which have long been assumed to be simple identifiers, as well as practices surrounding the production and distribution of commodities, actually functioned as branding strategies. Furthermore, these strategies have deep cultural origins and cognitive foundations, beginning in the civilizations of Egypt and Iraq thousands of years ago.

Branding became necessary when large-scale economies started mass-producing commodities such as alcoholic drinks, cosmetics and textiles. Ancient societies not only imposed strict forms of quality control over these commodities, but as today they needed to convey value to the consumer. Wengrow finds that commodities in any complex, large society needs to pass through a “nexus of authenticity.

Through history, these have taken the form of “the bodies of the ancestral dead, the gods, heads of state, secular business gurus, media celebrities, or that core fetish of post-modernity, the body of the sovereign consumer citizen in the act of self-fashioning.” Although capitalism and branding find in each other a perfect complement, they have distinct origins. Wengrow shows that branding has for millennia filled a deep-seated need for us humans to find value in the goods that we consume.

Sure to be provocative, “Prehistories of Commodity Branding” is necessary reading for a wide range of people, from those interested in the workings of ancient societies to anyone who is interested in understanding how marketing has developed into a powerful force in our lives.Journal reference: Wengrow, David “Prehistories of Commodity Branding” Current Anthropology 49:1 .

Adapted from materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. 

Article Cultural-Human Culture Subject To Natural Selection, Study Shows

This article is current cultural anthropology at work at Stanford over natural selection affects on human culture.  This article is a little traditional about the cultural approach, but it applies.  Often anthropology sub-fields over lap.  This article shows how biology and cultural anthropology have overlapped in gaining a better understanding of Polynesian canoe-design and the cultural significance of the seemingly natural selection of Polynesian genomes.  I hope you find the article as interesting as I have.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2008)— The process of natural selection can act on human culture as well as on genes, a new study finds. Scientists at Stanford University have shown for the first time that cultural traits affecting survival and reproduction evolve at a different rate than other cultural attributes. Speeded or slowed rates of evolution typically indicate the action of natural selection in analyses of the human genome. 

This study of cultural evolution compares the rates of change for structural and decorative Polynesian canoe-design traits. “Biological evolution of inherited traits is the essential organizing principle of biology, but does evolution play a corresponding role in human culture?” said Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California-Los Angeles and author of Guns, Germs and Steel. “This paper makes a decisive advance in this controversial field.

The Stanford team studied reports of canoe designs from 11 Oceanic island cultures. They evaluated 96 functional features (such as how the hull was constructed or the way outriggers were attached) that could contribute to the seaworthiness of the canoes and thus have a bearing on fishing success or survival during migration or warfare. They also evaluated 38 decorative or symbolic features (such as the types of carved or painted designs). They analyzed mathematically the rates of change for the two groups of canoe design traits from island group to island group.

Statistical test results showed clearly that the functional canoe design elements changed more slowly over time, indicating that natural selection could be weeding out inferior new designs. This cultural analysis is similar to analyses of the human genome that have been successful in finding which genes are under selection. The field of cultural evolution is controversial because not all historians, social scientists or even biologists agree that cultural change can be understood in an evolutionary context. Some say that human beliefs and behaviors are too unpredictable. But Nina Jablonski, chair of the Anthropology Department at Pennsylvania State University, said she is sold on the research.

“This paper is revolutionary in its approach … one of the most significant papers to be written in anthropology in the last 20 years,” she said. Authors of the study said their results speak directly to urgent social and environmental problems. “People studying climate change, population growth, poverty, racism and the threat of plagues all know what the problems are and what we should be doing to solve them,” said Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford.

Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb and other books on dilemmas facing contemporary human society, said he does not understand why more effort is not going into urgently needed solutions. “What we don’t know, and need to learn, is how cultures change and how we can ethically influence that process,” he said.Deborah S. Rogers, a research fellow at Stanford, said their findings demonstrate that “some cultural choices work while others clearly do not.”  

“Unfortunately, people have learned how to avoid natural selection in the short term through unsustainable approaches such as inequity and excess consumption. But this is not going to work in the long term,” she said. “We need to begin aligning our culture with the powerful forces of nature and natural selection instead of against them. “Examples of cultural approaches that are putting humans at risk include “everything from the economic incentives, industrial technologies and growth mentality that cause climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity, to the religious polarization and political ideologies that generate devastating conflict around the globe,” Rogers said.”

If the leadership necessary to undertake critically needed cultural evolution in these areas can’t be found, our civilization may find itself weeded out by natural selection, just like a bad canoe design.” This research is scheduled to appear Feb. 19, in the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Deborah S. Rogers and Paul R. Ehrlich are affiliated with the Center for Conservation Biology.

Adapted from materials provided by Stanford University.