THE ANCESTRESS HYPOTHESIS
VISUAL ART AS ADAPTATION
By KATHERYN COE
Rutgers University Press
Coe has done 30 years of anthropology work.
5 MODEST AIMS for this book:
1) Switch the theoretical evolutionary focus away from competitive males to mothers’ competition, to see if this would make all topsy turvy.
2) Use visual art to test the hypothesis.
3) Concentrate on persistent behavior across generations.
4) Revise the use of early ethnologists’ behavioral methods.
5) Argue that inherited trait, not just the environment, influences the replication of traits.
She wanted to celebrate her grandmother.
If women were artists, there would be no time for motherhood, Woolf said.
Xii people she studied spent a lot of time on art and treated it as sacred and ancestor related.
Xiii – Bad mothers hold their personal interests above those of their children. Mothers get their genes to future generations this way. Ancestress had to do this too.
Mothers are often not celebrated in our history books. And, female birds are not decorated. So is self-sacrifice women’s role? Did visual art encourage self-sacrifice and altruism?
The first three chapters look at forms of visual arts.
Chapter four looks at characteristics of visual arts implicit in their descriptions.
Chapters 5 and 6 look at what promotes reproductive success; this is contrasted with Geoffrey Miller’s work.
In Chapters 9 and 10 She discusses Darwinian theory to reconcile the evidence with the Ancestress Hypothesis (AH).
CHAPTER ONE: THE ANCESTRESS HYPOTHESIS AND VISUAL ART: AN OVERVIEW
What is art? Is it man’s nobles invention or frivolous? Immoral? A thief of time? Only found in the West or universal?
Marcel Duchamp said art “has no biological source.”
With Darwin several hypothesis have been put forward, 1) Dissanyake’s group selection, Aiken’s neurological underpinnings; Thornhill’s sense of beauty. Then Miller’s sexual selection.
2 – Humans have been making art for 10s of thousands of years: decorating infant’s bodies and menopausal females and the dead. And, it has largely been traditional, not idiosyncratic.
3 – The AH holds the lynchpin of the evolution of our species was the increasing investment mothers made in offspring. We are extreme K strategists (putting large amounts in a small amount of mates and infants). Not R strategists (Who put a little in lots of offspring and mates). Mating behaviors can be at the expense of parenting behaviors.
The AH is not just a female strategy, it is maternal.
An ancestress is a dynast. She has descendants. So the ancestress strategy is long-term – aimed at generations of success. This is a social strategy. An R strategy will out produce a K strategy in one generation.
For art to be a successful adaptation, it should not only be directed at courtship, mating, and conception or even the birth of a child, but also at the survival and well-being of the child and more distant descendants.
Visual art promotes cooperation in descendants.
4 – When traditions break down, so do the personal sacrifices they demand and the cooperative social relations those traditions encourage.
In archeology we find material culture is very much the same from generation to generation.
The Acheulian handax stayed the same for a million years.
5 – When one accepts a tradition, one inherits an obligation to cooperate with one’s elders to learn a design; one also inherits the obligation to teach the next generation.
Gombrich writes the “Great teachers of China thought of art as a means of reminding people of the great examples of virtue in the golden past.”
6 – Leaders argued that art replication rules were sacred.
The costs associated with arts can be high, as in painting dead bodies. Peruvian cranial deformation sometimes reduced the brain size by as much as 6%.
7 – Tattoos and scarification are painful and cause infection.
8 – Decorating teeth is dangerous and extending craniums too.
9 – Costumes are heavy; Performing rituals requires cooperation, synchronization, hours of hard work, and physical discomfort. And males who are not respectful, who use art for their own ends are criticized.
11 – Sexual dimorphism has decreased since early hominids, while brain size has shot up. Females conceal ovulation in humans, start with babies later than other animals and stop sooner. After fertility, they help raise grandchildren.
We’re K strategy in morphology, physiology and behavior.
12 – As female’s investment in offspring increased, the number they could have decreased.
There are many terms for kinship descent.
13 - After the K strategy came on, males’ best strategy would be finding a female with good K strategy skills.
Competition would happen between women with males and women without good helping males. This would pressure both genders to hone their K-Strategy skills.
And marriage would allow for the identification of paternity, this would mean fathers and father’s kin would be part of the family.
In endogamous (within tribe marriage) tribes, you’d always be amongst kin.
14 – If a mother gave all her kids a particular style, then all her kids would be identified as descendants and able to recognize each other.
Decorating son to look like dad would increase paternity certainty.
15 – The issue is not who is making the art, but what are its characteristics. Not faithfully copying would risk the extinction of the tradition.
16 – One common theme in such art is sacrifice made for the group.
17 – Art that is anti-ancestor, anti-tradition, created, and used competitively to promote the artists self-interest (at the expense of others) is not an ancestress strategy art.
Even today, conservatives lambaste anti-traditional art.
Ethologists ignore subjective experience and focus on behavior; she will do so too.
18 – Why do we see similarities in body paint and not runaway differences, like in peacock’s tails?
19 – Is identification of paternity enough? No. You need descendants.
20 – The AH helps us understand the cross-cultural importance of ancestors; the sacredness of mothers; the respect shown for elders; kinship generosity; the idea of the purity of bloodlines and passions associated with ethnicity; the function of hierarchies as opposed to pecking orders; and taboos and restraint of sexual aggression in males.
CHAPTER TWO: VISUAL ART TECHNIQUES AND VENERATION OF THE DEAD
Visual arts are ancestral in 2 ways:
1) They are inherited from one’s ancestors. And you must earn the right to use these techniques from your ancestors;
2) There is a strong association between such visual arts and the dead.
This is usually tied in with the dead watching you. We keep bones for this reason. Icons.
Techniques are often passed down from the parent to child.
23 – There is a division of labor in such teaching; men tend to work with hard materials, like stone, horn and shell; while women work with softer, like clay, fiber and leather.
24 – It took a girl approximately 12 years to learn how to make a traditional basket.
25 – In the tribes of central Australia; a male is said to have completed his initiation only when he has learned not only his ancestor’s traditions, but respect for the elders who are living ancestors.
27 – You had to learn the meaning of the designs, which went back to the first ancestors. And, why? She often heard, cause that’s the way ancestors did it, in field work.
The oldest tombs are 70 to 80,000 years old.
The pyramids were used for 5,000 years.
28 - Burials are often not too far from home and are built to last. And burials can last for decades. People feed their ancestors around the world.
29 – And such burials are often elaborate.
30 – Investment is relative to resources. The pyramids were not built by rich folks.
Bodies and bones were decorated.
32 - Mummification was widely practiced and elaborate.
Statues were widely made.
Herein, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, . . . many death related rituals are detailed. Ancestral paintings and carvings, totem poles.
Ancestor house decorations, ancestor burial in the Maya codex.
Genealogy is often depicted in art.
44 – Like totem poles, ancestral arts are often sacred.
45 – You can’t discuss traditional art without discussing ancestors. And, explanations based on self-interest don’t make much sense.
There is also a link between traditional art and the moral system. Obligations and duties come from kinship. Techniques give elders status. And, respecting elders is widespread. Arts, it seems, require and promote the kinship metaphor.
CHAPTER THREE: CHANGING STYLES OF VISUAL ART
Western artists seem to be an exception in this veneration of the past. Our art thrives on wiping out the past, as Duchamp thought his contemporaries did.
Art sometimes changes when two tribes come together. It also happens with contact with distinct cultural peoples.
48 – When art styles change rapidly, we’re likely to find a series of counter movements, trying to move visual art and related behaviors back to ancestrally sanctioned ones.
We see such a return in Egypt under Tutankhamen and Renaissance Florence.
But the West has largely reacted against the past.
49 - Christian iconography of the Father in the sky and mother Mary made metaphorical kin out of all Europeans.
In Athens around 6 bce, many crafts people came in. Artists became unwilling to follow formula and increasingly experimented.
51 – Technical competence became important. People started signing their work!And, art for arts sake emerged.
Sophocles’ Antigone shows loyalty to kin versus state. Oedipus’ disaster happens because of a merited curse on his father.
52 – Socrates and Plato denigrated received tradition in Homer.
53 – Germanic tribes dismissed Romans as effete and servile, while adopting Christianity.
Jewish law forbade images. Religious art was forbidden by the Eastern church by 745.
55 – Of the books printed between 1450 and 1500, 75% were ancestral as they were religious or dealth with classical and medieval historical and literary topics.
In 1435 Alberti published his treaty on artists, depicting them as lone geniuses.
Botticelli was one of the first to choose classical images.
56 – Soon art patrons, not churches started to commission artists and choose topics.
57 – In the 16th and 17th centuries the cult of the mad genius flourished.
58 – All this as skepticism over the church grew. In 1527 Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire ended patronage, sending artists scurrying.
The 25th session of the Council (Dec 3 – 4, 1563) concluded that the arts had to be made virtuous – to depict the holy family and redemption. But people largely ignored the edict.
59 – During the 18th century the term ‘asthetik,’ was coined by Alexander Baumgarten. And, this created the area of philosophy based on Plato’s idea of beauty.
61 – In the 19th and 20th centuries, art styles started changing rapidly. The public lost confidence in its ability to judge art.
In 1821, Ingres wrote “Let me hear no more of that absurd maxim: “We need the new, we need to follow our century, everything changes, everything is changed! Sophistry – all of that! Does nature change, do the light and air change, have the passions of the human heart changed since the time of Homer?”
62 – Increasingly emphasis was placed on the emotional response to art. Deconstruction became a theme. Duchamp’s Fountain.
63 – We learned that artistic power comes through mental suffering.
In sum, the Greeks introduced the idea of destroying traditions and encouraging skepticism and creativity. The Romans spread the idea. The Middle Ages was a reaction to the excess and a return to kinship, ancestry and religion.
64 – Greek ideas came back in the Renaissance, and have struggled to free themselves from ancestral bonds ever since.
64 – Though ancestry has declined in import in the West since the Greeks, we still have ethnic wars, guided by symbols of ancestry in our world.
65 – Genre kind of means artists copy other artists. And, traditional art is not stagnant.
Visual art, traditional and nontraditional, has always been used to promote certain behaviors. “The traditional arts are unabashedly propagandistic.” Nontraditional arts, implicitly, encourage new behaviors.
66 – The market for airport art has made it less sacred. Whereas earlier art did not seek to draw attention to itself, nontraditional does, so that it can get patronage.
The conclusion is that rapidly changing styles have people saying art can’t be defined. But, we will cause science and testing hypothesis requires definitions.
[This is a weak ending to a chapter that runs counter to her argument, making the West and exception.]
CHAPTER FOUR: THE DEFINITION OF VISUAL ART: THE FIRST STEP OF THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
Some folks are purposefully vague and imprecise on their use of the term ‘culture’ in order to err on the side of inclusiveness.
Anthropologists love saying ‘art’ is a western idea.
68 – Well, aesthetics might not have been the ideal.
69 – Are the elaborate nests of bowerbirds art?
70 – Bowerbird’s decoration sends the message “look at me! Look at this!”
71 – Even if we say art arouses emotion – by way of definition – we still won’t know what about it arouses emotion.
72 – Researchers recognize that “common knowledge is a prerequisite to the functioning of the symbols.” It must be identified and remembered.
73 – Memory is crucial to the definition of a symbol; meaning is learned. Its meaning being shared with others implies this.
Dissanayake said creativity is a ‘biological predisposition.’ But Gombrich pointed out that the idea that an artist must be original is very modern.
76 – Finally, the definition of visual art: and it is long: “Modification of an object or body to attract attention in association with something used to attract attention; perhaps a message. The proximate aim of visual art is an adaptation, its ultimate aim is to influence social behavior in ways that promote success in leaving descendants. (This is shortened).
Attract is central here and it means to draw attention to. Color and form and pattern are also in the definition. One component of art is that humans must make it. A second is that it involves color, line pattern or form; third is that color line and form have no purpose other than to attract attention.
This definition does not refer to poetry, storytelling, dance or music. The benefit of this definition is that is agreed upon and it focuses on behavior.
CHAPTER FIVE: UNDERPINNINGS OF THE ANCESTRESS HYPOTHESIS
79 – Genes are expressed in an environment that is social. Among humans, mothering behaviors are learned, taught, supported and reinforced , by and large, through traditional kinship and moral systems.
Flo was a chimpanzee that was very attractive to men. She taught her daughters mothering skills.
81 – There is in primates maternal lines, considerable cooperation within and competition between them. But these coalitions do form and they do so around high – ranking females.
But they are temporary and dissolve as soon as immediate problems are solved.
According to one study, the size of the maternal line, leath of the members and number of sexually receptive females seems to be the best predictor of the strength of a particular maternal line.
82 – There is variation in mothering styles. So perhaps more attentive mothers had more children, and this looped to grow the tendency.
83 – One sure factor impacting female reproductivity is their social relations.
85 – Subfecundity means that females often don’t easily conceive – and it is dangerous – till about 19.5. When we went upright, the pelvis narrowed to keep the intestines in place. Human females lose a lot of pregnancies.
86 – Social relations during fecundity would increase the food supply. If learned, if one generation does not mother well, the next won’t either.
87 – Human mother milk is very low in fat and protein when compared with other mammals. This likely required comparatively high rates of nursing during much of human evolution.
Populations that bottle-feed have a list of ailments.
88 – Human infants are more helpless than any other animal. And, their being touched is important to the child’s future development.
89 - This has a great effect in rats.
90 – Human females’ fertility falls faster than others. Human women are infertile for about a third of their lives after menopause, chimps 10 percent.
91 – Mammals are distinguished by ranked relationships. The mother guides while the offspring follow.
92 – A pecking order is distinguished from a hierarchy in that the individual at the top has dominance or rank, but no obligations to the ones at the bottom, just as the one at the bottom has no influence over the one at the top. Pecking orders are impersonal and competitive; hierarchies are personal and involve a vertical form of cooperation.
93 – Chimpanzees have birth order hierarchies. These are also found cross-culturally in humans. Duties fall to the order kin. Japanese kids don’t fight about game rule disputes, they defer to the older.
In many societies advanced age brings status.
Older women are sometimes chanters and sometimes social critics.
95 - But, in some cultures older people are not respected. Elder abuse is on the rise in the West. This is in the absence of a tradition that encourages us to honor elders.
CHAPTER SIX: MALES AS ANCESTORS
Marriage, anthropology textbooks tend to agree, is a universal and thus presumably ancient behavior that involves, among other things, a socially recognized and enduring social relationship between a male and a female.
97 – Evolutionary biologists do not often say men are r-strategists, they do often speak of them as having the potential to impregnate lots of females.
And, females are often scarce commodities; in such places, all females, but not all males are married.
97 – Geoffrey Miller argued marriage happened late in human evolution.
98 – But various lines of evidence indicate that marriage, while often polygnous, is ancient. First of all, it is a universal trait; unless it evolved many times in many places, it was spread by early human migration.
And, males often seek women before their fertile. This may be because they wish to control their entire fertility.
Female organisms may also support that marriage is ancient. It is associated with increased oxytocin. But, this is dangerous in women as extra pair bondings cost relationships; so they shouldn’t be predisposed to desire sex.
But orgasm and libido may not promote extra pair-bond sex, but bonding in marriage. Orgasm is more likely in marriages, for women.
99 - As Acheulian axes are likely male tools that persisted for a million years; this suggests fathers teaching sons, which implies identifying paternity, which implies marriage.
Mating has tended to be socially arranged. As such, this is a social arrangement, not just – traditionally – the whims of two folks.
100 – This was all at the service of producing descendants.
Wives were not just controlled by males. They too had power over men. The tribes females could collectively attack a man who was unfaithful.
103 – There is the daddy-at-home and the many-fathers hypothesis to explain hidden ovulation and females’ extended sexual receptivity.
Hrdy backs the many fathers one; which means all men must take care of all babies.
But there may have been selection for fatherly types.
105 – One study found male polygny / female serial monogamy was associated with decreased fertility.
Marriage links the father with the kin, but the offspring also thereby linked with an extended social network. Single motherhood in traditional societies are discouraged.
106 – Researchers found children under 10 living with a step parent are 30 to 40 times more likely to suffer abuse. And divorce means no father and so limits skills learned by children.
107 – Coyness belongs to young females; it is silly in post menopausal females.
Females should select for more docile males.
But men are restrained only so long as young females are restrained. And, restraining them may be easier and so more practiced. Traditions do encourage female chastity.
CHAPTER SEVEN: VISUAL ART THEORY: ANCESTRESS STRATEGY OR SEXUAL STRATEGY?
“An aim of visual art was to identify kinsman and codscendants and to temper aggression and competition in order to promote kinshiplike cooperation in those so identified.”
Geoffrey Miller’s The Mating Mind (2000) says art is for sexual selection. She will kill him.
109 – Miller asserts that art is aimed at influencing a series of temporary mates.
Miller’s proposal can explain only a small proportion of visual art produced by humans; namely some art since the Renaissance.
110 – “When ancestors are honored, their traditions continue to be both important and transmitted between generations of kin, visual art is conservative.” When traditions and ancestors are lost, art sets out on paths that emphasize individual artists and their particular skills.
To be a mother, we need social processing skills and so, a larger brain. As more knowledge is needed, so is more processing. As wisdom and knowledge accumulate selction would have favored lowered mortality rates and greater longevity.
111 – The best way to describe a good mother is to describe her hierarchy, the obligations that the one at the top has for those beneath her.
Central to the transmission of skill is respect for the elders, from whom the skills come.
Visual art is social, not solitary. Skepticism and competition are always at the cost of cooperation.
The origins of visual art could have been accidental, when a mother adorned her child or did her hair a certain way. If the children copied the hair, their descendents would have been identified.
112 – Male decoration, likewise would advertise his ancestry and commitment to ancestors and co-descendants. The quality of his decorations would show his cooperativeness.
It would have put limits on folks as their clothes would be the same and not too outlandish.
113 – We are more intelligent than mere survival requires. But Miller says the most entertaining mate would have been the best one.
115 – Miller’s argument ignores the tremendous investment that our ancestors made in their offspring.
116 – But with Miller’s argument how do we explain both the strong and the weak dressing alike unless we fall back on coercive males? How do we explain traditions that limit expression?
117 – When single mothers bring men into the home or the children into men’s homes, they often begin to do poorly in school and suffer from parasites.
Miller disregards the propaganda theory of art. Language can tell people what to do and not do.
Body decoration can help you identify one’s clan and tribal ancestors and codescendants. Cooperation outside the tribe was limited in tribal times.
119 – Coe, again, argues that marriage is ancient; Monogamy, not marriage, is a recent human cultural behavior.
Morals have come from ancestral / parental teachings.
120 – Since Gods don’t exist, art made to supplicate them would have no evolutionary benefit, Miller asserts.
121 - But, such claims, Coe notes, promote cooperation; the ferocity of the fighting force of a group bent on avenging sins against their ancestors is fierce.
She provides the survival value in the appearance of Gods that extend the kinship metaphor across tribes.
122 – Miller ignores anthropology and parenting behaviors. We must account for anthropology, and that means accounting for tradition.
CHATPER EIGHT: TESTING THE ANCESTRESS HYPOTHESIS
Four tests to falsify the AH:
1) Prehistoric art that is explicitly sexual.
2) Art placing no limits on males.
3) If people readily adopt art styles from nonkin.
4) Traditional art will not disrespect ancestors.
What of the Venus statues? Coe thinks women made these, they’re not male pornography. They had the early domestic skills to produce these.
Red Ochre has been used, perhaps, for 300,000 years. In burial too. But, men are more often red-green colorblind. So again, not for men.
Venus figurines in Africa are used in initiations and represent moral attitudes and obligations girls must remember.
Images of icons and examples of tying icons to moral teachings fill these pages.
133 – She found one counter example, but usually females use figurines and dolls.
The sexual selection hypothesis leads to the prediction that individual’s clothes and decoration will be very different. They aren’t.
134 – Masaii warrior clothes were elaborate; but done socially. Maori female tats are about descent and quality of descent.
135 – Maori men’s heads too talk about lineage and rank (often associated with lineage).
137 – And the decorations do lead, sometimes, to more esteem.
138 – But if copying the dominant male is around, it doesn’t explain traditions if mixed with sexual selection. It would lead to rapid change and trends. These don’t happen.
140 – But, after many examples, Coe summarizes, when art styles change, are adopted, it is not done cavalierly from anyone. Metaphorical kinship ties have to be established first; new ancestors linked to old ones.
Because art is beautiful, it could become competitive, it is not uncommon for religions to place limits on art to prevent this.
141 – What of violence in art? When art indicates kin, it indicates non-kin by implication. And, while it inculcates cooperation within the group, it does not inculcate cooperation with other groups.
142 – Rituals are a dramatic way of inculcating forbearance, mutual help and condemning disunion.
CHAPTER NINE: MODERN DARWINIAN THEORY
While evolutionary theory focuses on genes, she focuses, as Darwin did, on traits.
Here are two pages on Darwin’s coming to understand variation and survival. The peacock tail and sexual selection are recounted.
146 - Genes and the environment together shape inheritable traits. Adaptations are ‘facultative’ meaning that they are conditional and their expression is dependent on the presence of certain environmental cues. To understand the function of any adaptation, we must understand its function in the environment in which it evolved.
So we have been looking at the function of art in the peoples from whom we evolved.
147 - Some traits are not adaptive. They are neutral or selection hasn’t had time to work on them. Also some traits have many effects.
Most biologists separate proximate and ultimate causes.
Proximate might be that the visual art elicits a good feeling. The ultimate would ask why visual art came to elicit good feelings.
148 – Coe will argue that the proximate effect of visual art was to use color, form and pattern to attract attention to objects and messages. The ultimate effect was to attract attention to kinship and ancestry and to encourage cooperation in those so identified.
149 – Dawkin’s selfish genes did not necessarily mean people act selfishly, just that they get genes continued.
There is inclusive fitness.
150 – That is why we favor kin and reciprocal altruism exists.
151 – Reciprocal altruism is more likely to occur when there is long-term, low cost, interaction, not one off giving.
In 1962, V. C. Wynne-Edwards argued that groups that had population regulation mechanisms (for example, sacrificing reproduction during tough times to keep the population low) would survive, while others . . . not so much.
But from an individual selection perspective, this model could never get off the ground. Self-interested folks would exploit it and make more babies and the altruists would just die off.
Coe accepts that group altruism is unlikely. Still many hold to group selection in hypothesis concerning cultural behavior, including traditions of visual art, religion, and kinship amity, because nothing else seems to work.
The ancestress hypothesis explains cooperative behavior without reference to the group. Individuals in each generation make the choice as to whether honor or ignore their ancestors and traditions.
And, we can make predictions about the behavior of those who reject and honor these traditions.
CHAPTER TEN: RECONCILIATION THE PROBLEM OF DEFINITIONS
‘Reproduction,’ the word, needs definition. Does it mean when the sperm hits the egg? Birthing? Raising to maturity? Descendants?
Furthermore, she wishes to speak of cooperating groups as coalitions. The first example of which we get from our parents.
153 – We can have nonkin coalitions, but it gets more complex.
And we need to conceive of competition, like cooperation, as social. Territorial defense is social.
154 – Humans can be social without interacting with others – for example when they give charity. But many interactions are not considered social, getting robbed.
Sexual behavior is not necessarily social – rape.
155 – Social, then, is when we let our interest be on someone else. Such as in good parenting behavior.
A sibling who wants more than their other sibling is selfish. Now the problem is when women stop reproducing and take care of their grandchildren. This means that she is helping 25% of her genes survive. If no menopause, she could make another baby and 50% would happen. So why menopause?
156 – If the woman has more than 2 kids, and they compete to wherein they kill each other, all lose. We need a form of restraint. This restraint is parental if parents inculcate it; if grandparents do it is traditional.
Even cooperation amongst siblings is a sort of K-Strategy, a longer term investment in others. K-Strategy cannot be explained by raw gene count as it interferes with making more babies. Yet it exists.
157 – Selfish is an odd word as it means at the expense of others. And genes do not have motives. They, in fact, do not act for tomorrow, but just code proteins for today. Natural selection works on phenotypes not genes.
Genes that code for color perception go forward as that helps the animal.
158 – A mother cannot get her genes into the future by only caring about herself.
Cross-culturally, Edel and Edel found, “Mother take care of your child,” is a universal imperative.
159 – The naturalistic fallacy: if rape gets your genes into the next generation, it is not ‘good.’ But what is good in evolution and good in the normative moral sense do often coincide.
160 - And, so these would be promoted as good, generation after generation. But, the environment may change and behaviors may no longer help. So, we don’t mean good in any ultimate sense. Readers can decide for themselves if they think good mothering good or bad!??
Good mothers tend to become ancestresses, both in reality and image. And much of good mothering is taught (self-help books as evidence?). And, mothers need to be reminded to be good mothers.
161 – Culture is sometimes defined as ideas, sometimes behavior. We can only copy behaviors if they’re visible /audible publically.
Traditions can be troubling for Darwinists, foot binding and sewing genitals closed are bad for offspring’s health.
Australian aborigines make their sons do 10 year initiation processes that include dental ablation, scarification, and going into enemy territory.
162 – Perhaps this is because we think of them incorrectly. Traditions are phenotypes; they are enduring cultural behaviors that imply parent-offspring similarity.
The group should not be unspecified. We get our traditions from our family, our ancestors, not our group, have been the primary influences on the way we behave.
163 – Natural selection should work fairly quickly on these traditions.
Why haven’t we recognized the importance of traditions?
1) Traditions aren’t seen as important in the US.
2) Our focus on change and variation has blinded us to consistency.
3) Anthropologists often dismiss ancestors as mythical, cause they can’t find any direct connection.
164 – Kin terms are often very detailed and focused on in traditional cultures.
And appropriate behavior to the right class of kin is stressed. Including treating all members of your tribe as family.
Kin selection does not explain such behavior as clans, moieties, and tribes may claim common descent but they’re not closely related at all.
Reciprocal altruism doesn’t work either. Gossip and ostracism can’t explain cooperation either.
166 – Traditions explain such cooperation. And, this especially since these groups were often amorphous and had no strong leadership.
This can’t be explained by group selection – she persists – because people move around a lot and marry out. [But she has already defined the unit of selection as tradition, not genes]. [Also, she avoids multilevel selection].
The groupings involved are very complex and overlapping.
167 - But it is not as complex as it seems. Because ancestors not groups are the primary influence on behavior. This is true if they live together or not. Descendants may be widely dispersed even.
168 - They will recognize each other via inherited traditions; a particular way of doing their hair or dress.
169 – Visual art has the characteristics of a good mother. It encourages kin to cooperate; this because competition is at the expense of the social group.
In religion, metaphor caused the kinship group to expand.
It also, in one sentence, 2 paragraphs from the end, she mentions, “can be used to promote animosity against nonkin.”