The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture

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Rutgers University Press, 2003 - Science - 300 pages
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Can the insights of science provide a proper understanding of human culture, or must we leave the analysis of culture to the so-called humanities?

The ability to share knowledge and beliefs is the preeminent characteristic of our species. Science itself is a product of culture and the natural sciences are the most powerful forms of knowledge we have. From explanations of the origins of the universe to descriptions of the molecular structure of life, science has a spectacular record of achievement. Yet it has mostly failed to provide an understanding of human culture.

The Imagined World Made Real changes this by showing how a grasp of human evolution extends the reach of science. Henry Plotkin recognizes that at the heart of human culture are social constructs, such as justice and money, and that collective beliefs, values, and actions are essential to their formation and maintenance. Only when these constructs are integrated into an accepted biological framework will there be a true synthesis between the social and natural sciences.

This book describes the beginnings of a comprehensive natural science of culture, and with it, an understanding of why people do what they do. Culture can now be thought of as a natural process that is actually a billion years old.


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User Review  - aesop - LibraryThing

loved this- a long, long arch of theory joining together sciences, anthropology/ethology and ultimately humanities. a tall order but a fantastically elegant leap through these assembled hoops. I've ... Read full review


Marrying the Biological and Social Sciences
Culture social constructions and natural science
Possible frameworks
Alternative theories to NeoDarwinism
Suggested Readings
The Emergence of Culture
The trouble with levels
Naturalizing Culture the Process Way
Causal Mechanisms
Individuals Groups and Culture
The Strangeness of Culture
A tentative conclusion

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About the author (2003)

Henry Plotkin is a professor of psychobiology at University College London.

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