Biological culture and cultural biology

In summary, the conversation discusses the relationship between biology and culture, particularly in regards to whether biology determines cultural paradigms or if cultural practices can influence biology. The speakers also mention examples such as Darwin's work and the impact of environment and genetics on people's lifestyles and health.
  • #1

Pythagorean

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It's difficult to find research about how culture influences biology or biology influences culture, those keywords are saturated with nature vs. nurture discussions
Curious if there's a good keyword or named discipline for these kinds of questions:

To what extent does biology determine culture? For example, if you took two cultures, one raised by the sea and another in the mountains, then rewound and switched places, how much would their culture simply swap vs. how much would stay the same vs. how much would new cultural paradigms arise?

Can we separate happenstance cultural paradigms from those that have tendencies to arise from particular environments or genetic lines?
 
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  • #2
I would start with the history of biology. Its full of interactions between biological thought and the culture things were embedded in.
Darwin in a religious environment would be a good example.

I think there is a sociological branch of history of science. That might be useful.
 
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  • #4
Pythagorean said:
To what extent does biology determine culture?
Interesting thought, but I can't recall anything for this direction.

On the other hand, for the reverse thought that culture might have a shot in biology - well, I seem to recall a case about crowd-tolerance genes and the rise of cities... Also, the lactose-tolerance story...

Though it's a bit of a chicken or the egg kind of question that what came first :wink:
 
  • #5
I would tend to think about how humans meet their basic biological needs this would include things like survival, getting food, finding a mate, child care, development of skills. Perhaps the most important feature of humans is that they are intensely social and they need to be, identification with membership of particular groups and belonging are extremely important. Getting food, care of children etc mean social factors often override survival needs. Living in cities was really dependent on the development of agriculture and to expand your own groups population required resources, so conflict and the need for social organisation was needed. So our culture developed to support our biology though there are lots of possible ways to achieve the same aims.
There are a lot of ideas about some specific biological features but for most of human history our beliefs about biology didn't seem to have much power, it was the effect of the belief that was important.
 

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