Wired for Culture

Mark Pagel

Wired for Culture

Since humans left Africa less than a hundred thousand years ago there has been a staggering explosion of cultures. What caused this blooming of diversity? Why are there so many mutually incomprehensible languages, even within small territories? Why do we rejoice in rituals, wrap ourselves in flags, or define ourselves in opposition to others? In Wired for Culture Mark Pagel, one of the world's leading experts on human development, shows how our facility for culture is the key to our success as a species. 3.2 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Wired for Culture

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Technology
Format Hardback
Pages 432
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication March 2012
ISBN 978-1846140150
Publisher Allen Lane
 

Since humans left Africa less than a hundred thousand years ago there has been a staggering explosion of cultures. What caused this blooming of diversity? Why are there so many mutually incomprehensible languages, even within small territories? Why do we rejoice in rituals, wrap ourselves in flags, or define ourselves in opposition to others? In Wired for Culture Mark Pagel, one of the world's leading experts on human development, shows how our facility for culture is the key to our success as a species.

Reviews

The Observer

Robin McKie

Pagel's arguments are complex but skilfully assembled, creating a convincing thesis that accounts for the rise of human culture, a process that began to flourish around 70,000 years ago … Crucially, Pagel's arguments steer away from reliance on biological determinism.

11/03/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Tom Chivers

It is tempting to see Pagel’s work as a rebuke to Dawkins. But, in fact, it is a companion piece – as he takes pains to point out, the selfishness of our genes requires co-operation in their vehicles ... It’s a clear and convincing read, and it wouldn’t look out of place alongside Pinker and Dawkins.

06/03/2012

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The Guardian

Julian Baggini

The clarity of Pagel's absorbing account is enhanced by the fact that he looks at everything through the one lens: evolution. No doubt other histories of cooperation from other perspectives would have different, perhaps conflicting, things to say. But partial though his view may be, he paints a broad picture, impressive for its detail, accuracy and vivacity.

25/02/2012

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The Washington Post

Susan Okie

Pagel contends that the existence of mutual altruism and cooperation among the unrelated members of human societies is our species’ signal achievement, and his explanation of how such behaviors may have developed is the intellectual heart of his book. These chapters are heavy going at times...

23/01/2012

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Times Higher Education

Steven Rose

Written in a patronising tone and replete with fairy stories about Pleistocene men cooperating by agreeing that one should sharpen spears while the other chips stone hand axes (presumably the women are home doing the cooking as usual), the book misses entirely one of the most convincing arguments for the evolution of human sociality, centred on human mothers' unique preparedness to share the parenting of their children (called "alloparenting" by the evolutionary biologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy). Grand unitary theories of everything used to be the province of physicists. It's a pity that biology has shed its modesty; we have enough to say about things we do know about without trying to take over the world.

08/03/2012

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