From Deep Learning to Deep Reflection: Toward an Appreciation of the Integrated Nature of Cognition and a Viable Theoretical Framework for Cultural Evolution

AbstractAlthough Darwinian models are rampant in the social sciences, social scientists do not face the problem that motivated Darwin’s theory of natural selection: the problem of explaining how lineages evolve despite that any traits they acquire are regularly discarded at the end of the lifetime of the individuals that acquired them. While the rationale for framing culture as an evolutionary process is correct, it does not follow that culture is a Darwinian or selectionist process, or that population genetics provides viable starting points for modeling cultural change. This paper lays out step-by-step arguments as to why a selectionist approach to cultural evolution is inappropriate, focusing on the lack of randomness, and lack of a self-assembly code. It summarizes an alternative evolutionary approach to culture: self-other reorganization via context-driven actualization of potential.

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