Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
A Different Kind of AnimalHow Culture Transformed Our Species$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Robert Boyd

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195902

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195902.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Not by Brains Alone

Not by Brains Alone

The Vital Role of Culture in Human Adaptation

(p.9) Chapter 1 Not by Brains Alone
(p.iii) A Different Kind of Animal

Robert Boyd

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that humans make use of insights and adaptations that humans do not understand. Humans learn very often not by figuring out how things work but by imitating others who have locally useful “know-how.” The chapter then describes the conditions under which selection favors “a psychology that causes most people to adopt beliefs just because others hold those beliefs.” Indeed, it contends that “even the simplest hunter-gatherer societies depend on tools and knowledge far too complex for individuals to acquire on their own.” Ultimately, culture is the storehouse of gradually accumulated, local, and typically tacit knowledge. Thus, “cumulative cultural evolution” is the great and unique advantage of humans.

Keywords:   humans, human adaptation, imitation, beliefs, culture, tacit knowledge, cumulative cultural evolution

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.