Darwin, Sex and Statusargues that a human sociobiology that mistakes evolutionary theory for theories of psychology and culture is wrong, as are psychologies that could never have evolved or social sciences that posit impossible psychologies. Status develops theories of human self-awareness, cognition, and cultural capacity that are compatible with evolutionary theory. Recurring themes include: the importance of sexual selection in human evolution; our species' preoccupation with self-esteem and relative standing; the individual as an active strategist, regularly revising culturally provided information; (...) and awareness as an impressionmanagement device. Culture is a somewhat structured information pool that itself evolves, often in ways that reduce the genetic fitness of its participants. (shrink)
Because human cultures are far more similar than they are different, culturally constituted niches may work to limit or prevent the development of genetically based psychological differences across populations. The niche approach further implies that we may remain relatively well-adapted to contemporary environments because of the latter's cultural niche continuity with ancient environments.
Human hyperculture appears to have been produced by the amplification of the kind of normal culture shared by cetaceans and other animals and presumably by our ancestors. Is there any possibility that cetaceans could be subject to these amplifying processes, which may include: sexual selection; within-group moral behavior; culling of low- cultural-capacity individuals through predation or self-predation; and reciprocal positive feedback between culture and the capacity for culture.
Vertical/compatible theoretical integration provides an alternative way of unifying sociocultural anthropology and related disciplines. It involves analyzing theoretical statements for their implicit and explicit assumptions at multiple levels of analysis and then determining whether these assumptions are compatible with consensus in the relevant disciplines (e.g., does the sociological theory include an assumption at odds with consensus psychology?). Incompatibilities indicate a need for further research. This approach is much more likely to salvage the bulk of humanities-oriented anthropology than is that of (...) the authors. (Published Online November 9 2006). (shrink)