Sunday, January 8, 2012

How can we support Cultural Genetics?

Three things are necessary to support a cultural genetics:

1. There must be some process of reproduction and inheritance, in which cultural structures and elements are transmitted from one “generation” to the next.

2. There must be a significant measure of stability in the transmission process, in which the replicators show sufficient copying fidelity to transmit recognizable patterns.

3. There must be some process such as sexuality or mutation that introduces change and variety into the process of inheritance, yet is sufficiently coherent itself to permit scientific analysis.

These conditions are met by religious cults and by at least some other phenomena such as stylistic schools in the various arts. If other parts of the wider culture fail to exhibit these features, an “inorganic chemistry” of culture - if not the full richness of an organic genetics - will still emerge, and the rules of one can illuminate the rules of the other.

Cult is culture writ small. Experts suggest that cults are the Drosophila melanogaster and Escherichia coli that will permit us to develop cultural genetics - in other words, fastreproducing organisms whose evolution can be studied efficiently. In modern society, cults are born out of older cults through two processes biologists call fission and sporulation, and most cults are known to cluster in family lineages. Fission is the common term for reproduction by splitting among microorganisms; the corresponding term in religious studies is schism. Sporulation is the term used in biology to name the process by which organisms of certain species (the mosses, for example) reproduce by throwing off spores (tiny seeds). Similarly, the founders of religious cults almost invariably serve an apprenticeship in earlier successful cults, so they serve as the seeds in this reproduction process. In this way, the beliefs and behaviors of cults and artistic movements are transmitted from one generation to the next, with these characteristics sometimes mutating and often combining from two or more sources.

Tags: Bio Technology, Bio Genetics, Cultural Genetics