He first explains that cultural evolution and biological evolution are not the same (1996, pg 24). Because its “laws are not theoretical propositions but rather empirical generalizations,” cultural evolution does not work to explain cultural phenomena (1996, pg 25).
Evolutionary biology, says Dunnell, is a better method to use in comparison to cultural evolution for both cultural anthropology and archaeology. The only problem found with this method is dilemma of altruistic behavior in humans, which is the exact opposite of natural selection. That is, as Dunnell states, “the ultimate of the selfish principles.” The original solution to this problem was thought to be to change the scale of which natural selection works from that of the individual to the group. However, Dunnell gives a few reasons why this change usually would not work. First of these is that the individual, not the group, is the mean by which the reproductivity occurs. Second, the individual is the mean by which observable characteristics show themselves. Finally, changes in higher levels, such as that of the group, are too slow for natural selection to have and effect on the overall situation (1996, pg 26).
The difficulty, Dunnel states, is that evolution was developed “without the human case in mind,” and because humans are verbal beings, it is harder to apply evolutionary thought to the anthropology that studies them (1996, pg 26).
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...xpand to fit in everything that one deemed to be a “culture” (1988, 175).
After resting for about forty years, the cultural evolution method was revived in the mid-twentieth century. At first, many rejected the revival of this method, even though they were still using some aspects of it already, i.e. the stages of a cultures development. The twentieth century cultural evolution method differed from the earlier model in a few ways, but the main difference was in the definition of “progress.” During the nineteeth century it was broadly defined as “the betterment or similarity to modern European culture” (1988, pg 176-177). During the twentieth century, however, it took the definition of “ the increase in the amount of energy captured by society.” This simply means that the “least developed” cultures used less energy than “more developed” cultures (1988, pg 177).
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