Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Evolutionary Psychology to Spontaneous Orders

There are two papers by Douglas Kenrick, et al that lay out what I would consider to be foundational work in bridging evolutionary psychology and spontaneous order theory. They investigate several ways cultural differences can emerge, but this is broadly applicable to the emergence of spontaneous orders, and would be a good way to investigate how different versions of the same kinds of orders could emerge. There is no reason one could not run these models with all our instincts. We have, according to E. O. Wilson (actually, George P. Murdock, whom Wilson is quoting), identified at least sixty-seven cultural universals so far:
age-grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, calendar, cleanliness training, community organization, cooking, cooperative labor, cosmology, courtship, dancing, decorative art, divination, division of labor, dream interpretation, education, eschatology, ethics, ethno-botany, etiquette, faith healing, family feasting, fire-making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gestures, gift-giving, government, greetings, hair styles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, joking, kin groups, kinship nomenclature, language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, obstetrics, penal sanctions, personal names, population policy, postnatal care, pregnancy usages, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, religious ritual, residence rules, sexual restrictions, soul concepts, status differentiation, surgery, tool-making, trade, visiting, weather control, and weaving. (Wilson, OHN, 160)
Each of these, in various forms, can be found in every culture, throughout history. My guess is there are many more than just these. In Natural Classicism, Frederick Turner adds combat, gifts, mime, friendship, lying, love, storytelling, murder taboos, and poetic meter to the list of sixty-seven. And in The Culture of Hope, and in Beauty, he gives a list of what he calls neurocharms (208-210), many of which could also be considered cultural universals, since they are found in every human culture. Many of these, such as narrative, selecting, classification, musical meter, tempo, rhythm, tone, melody, harmony, and pattern recognition can be found in other animals, including chimpanzees, gibbons, and birds. Others, such as giving meaning to certain color combinations, divination, hypothesis, metaphysical synthesis, collecting, metaphor, syntactical organization, gymnastics, the martial arts, mapping, the capacity for geometry and ideography, poetic meter, cuisine, and massage (which would be a development of mammalian and primate grooming rituals, which humans also engage in, as any couple can tell you), are uniquely human.

One could run these models with each instinct and/or with combinations of instincts. Given enough computing power, it should not be entirely impossible to run combinations that would give rise to groups with features similar to actual cultures that have actually existed or exist. At the very least, it would be interesting to run some simulations to see what kinds of markets and other recognized spontaneous orders might emerge. This might also suggest other orders are spontaneous orders -- or could be.
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