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Tales of the Ex-ApesHow We Think about Human Evolution$
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Jonathan Marks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285811

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285811.001.0001

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Human Nature/Culture

Human Nature/Culture

Chapter:
(p.156) Chapter Seven Human Nature/Culture
Source:
Tales of the Ex-Apes
Author(s):

Jonathan Marks

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520285811.003.0007

Human ancestry and human diversity are parts of the same origin narrative. Misrepresenting facts of human biology as natural facts, rather than as natural/cultural facts, has historically been the source of scientific justifications for conservative political policies. The image that most accurately represents the metaphoric structure of human evolution is the rhizome or trellis, not the tree. Culture permeates human biology both as an ultimate cause (the ancient coevolution of technology, dexterity, and cognition), and as proximate cause (modern phenotypes develop in local contexts). Consequently, the idea of a “human nature” independent of culture is a pre-evolutionary concept. Likewise, the fallacy of “race” lies in its misrepresentation as a natural category, when it is actually a “natural/cultural” category.

Keywords:   Neanderthals, Denisovans, modern humans, race

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