Culture and the Darwinian Renaissance in the social sciences and humanities


A ‘Darwinian Renaissance’ in the social sciences and humanities cannot occur until evolutionary theory can successfully explain rapid and cumulative cultural change. Here I review empirical evidence that much of human behaviour is culturally determined, emphasising the need to incorporate culture into evolutionary analyses of human behaviour. I also review theoretical work which shows that culture is genetically adaptive, belying any simplistic gene-culture dichotomy. Finally, I show how recent work analysing culture as an evolutionary system is beginning to answer the kinds of questions that are of interest to social scientists and humanities scholars. These include phylogenetic reconstructions of the historical relationships between languages, manuscripts, social customs and artifacts, and experimental simulations of the microevolutionary processes underlying patterns of cultural macroevolution.

Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 9, 109–124.