The Emergence of Domains of Knowledge
So, Culture (aka Bioculture) is made up of: Domains of Knowledge.
For example, here are just a few:
Note that “TOOLS” is in “scare quotes” above.
…They are all: Technology!
And, so now – here is a diagram of biological evolution: it began with Darwin’s `tree of life’ diagram (below left) – and has been improved in accuracy and detail over time, by science, to – the one on the right (below).
(For more detail on all that, if you like that kind of thing, see: StoryAlity #139 – On the evolution of Darwin’s `Tree of Life’ Diagram).
And so – moving now from Biology, to Bioculture:
It is interesting to consider an entangled bank of… Culture.
Just as certain complex lifeforms (e.g.: dinosaurs!) emerged at certain times in evolutionary biological history – we must now ask:
Is it possible, to make the same comparison, in Culture?
(I don’t know and I don’t really care, because: I’m going to try and do it anyway. …That is just the kind of exciting and sometimes-fearless guy that I am. – Seriously, you should get to know me; I am awesome. But, I digress.)
Okay – so
– What I did, was, (and – by the way, you can do this too, and – you should! No, really.) – I went and tried to find out when the First International Conference on [Domain in Culture] was…
And I now present, for your edification, a Tree of Culture diagram.
Okay, ready? – Cos here it comes.
So, there. What do you think of… THAT-?!
(Comment below, and if at all possible, do it in: the Comments section.)
(And yes, I know – the diagram – looks a bit like a Christmas tree, but whatever. That’s not important right now. But – you can consider the diagram, my Christmas gift, to you. Or not, if it is culturally inappropriate.)
And Now, I guess I have some explaining to do.
Okay – so – here is what it means.
Those are the dates that I have found, for: The First International Conference on [Domain in Culture – eg: Biology, Geology, Maths, History – or, whatever].
Anyway so I guess you can see what I am getting at here.
Mainly, Cultural Evolution.
Now let me quote from Dan Dennett:
“In the beginning, it was all philosophy.
Aristotle, whether he was doing astronomy, physiology, psychology, physics, chemistry, or mathematics — it was all the same. It was philosophy.
Over the centuries there’s been a refinement process: in area after area questions that were initially murky and problematic became clearer. And as soon as that happens, those questions drop out of philosophy and become science.
Mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry — they all started out in philosophy, and when they got clear they were kicked out of the nest.
Philosophy is the mother. These are the offspring.
We don’t have to go back a long way to see traces of this. The eighteenth century is quite early enough to find the distinction between philosophy and physics not being taken very seriously. Psychology is one of the more recent births from philosophy, and we only have to go back to the late nineteenth century to see that.
My sense is that the trajectory of philosophy is to work on very fundamental questions that haven’t yet been turned into scientific questions.
Once you get really clear about what the questions are, and what would count as an answer, that’s science. Philosophy no longer has a role to play.
That’s why it looks like there’s just no progress. The progress leaves the field.
If you want to ask if there has been progress in philosophy, I’d say, look around you. We have departments of biology and physics. That’s where the progress is. We should be very proud that our discipline has spawned all these others.”
(Dennett in The Atlantic, 1998, online)
So, cultural evolution. Memes are units of culture. And units of culture are memes.
Now here’s a thing:
Entire domains in culture, can also be considered as: units of culture.
Here is another diagram I like: Note how domains emerge upwards from Biology (life). Once you have Physics, Chemistry, and organic Chemistry, you can have Biology… Then (once there is: life) you can have: individuals and groups, which have Psychology, and then Sociology, and Anthropology, and finally – the study of BioCulture (i.e. Culturology).
Then you can have a: “Tree of Culture” diagram.
Now as for the origins of domains in culture – you may want to point out, that the domain of History didn’t “begin” with the First International Conference on World History, in 1980… (Seems a bit too recent… What about: cavepersons, creating cave-art, of say a big-stinky bison they killed and ate or something? That’s “History”, too?)
Really Old Sulawesi Cave Art (2016)
And – Sure. I know that the domain of (written) History is customarily dated (by, Historians, no less) to: Herodotus. Of Halicarnassus (484 – c. 425 BCE). He wrote a thing called The Histories, so, it’s not hard to figure out from the title, what that was all about. (Actually, the History of the Greco-Persian Wars…) So; yes. The domain of critical written History officially has actually been happening since: Herodotus. (Or even Neanderthals, or whatever.)
But – we also need to consider – when a random group of folks is doing something in the world (in a certain domain), it is not until they all get together and have their first official international conference (or – some kind of similar meeting or gathering) that a group of individuals coheres into a Field for that Domain in Culture. (See: Bourdieu on Field Theory, if you like that sort of thing…)
Anyway – so here is something else I want to note.
In regard to Culture evolving like Biology. There are these things called Evolutionary Spirals.
Source: StoryAlity #119 – The holarchy of StoryAlity Theory
What this (i.e., evolutionary spirals) means is, some domains of knowledge have dominant Schools of Thought (or scientific paradigms, in Thomas Kuhn’s terms). And sometimes, once that School of Thought has been exhausted, (or – was just a bad idea in the first place, like say Freud and Psychotherapy, and also, Postmodernism) the Field (the people) in that Domain of culture (knowledge) need to throw out the textbooks, go back to an earlier (or radically new) School of Thought, and start over.
Anyway so – this is all an example of: How Culture evolves like Biology does…
For more detail (if you like that kind of thing), see:
StoryAlity #136 – Pop Culture in Asia and Oceania (2016)
StoryAlity #137 – Culturology – and, the CES (Cultural Evolution Society)
StoryAlity #138 – Darwin on the evolution of words and languages
StoryAlity #139 – On the evolution of Darwin’s `Tree of Life’ Diagram
StoryAlity #141 – The StoryAlity-Theory `Robo-Raconteur’ artificial-writer
StoryAlity #142 – Our StoryAlity so far – random Technological Marvels
StoryAlity #143 – All of life is doing science
Also – there sure is a lot of culture out there.
(And scientific knowledge doubles every 9 years, apparently soon to be every 12 hours when the robots get really cranking). Maybe Google “knowledge doubling” sometime.
Anyway so I hope you like my “Tree of Culture” diagram.
Here is a new and improved one (i.e., Version 3, Oct 3rd 2018).
I added Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (1665), the first official science journal.
And… I of course plan to further complexify (add in much more detail, to) the Tree of Culture diagram…
As, many domains then speciate way off, into many subdomains.
e.g. Psychology includes: Evolutionary Psychology, Positive Psychology, Biological, Cognitive, Developmental, etc!
But for now that’s probably a pretty good start. (Maybe.)
Also just out of interest, here is what Kroeber (1923, 1948) said:
`…the course of organic evolution can be portrayed properly as a tree of life, as Darwin has called it, with trunk, limbs, branches, and twigs. The course of development of human culture in history cannot be so described, even metaphorically. There is a constant branching-out, but the branches also grow together again, wholly or partially, all the time. Culture diverges, but it syncretizes and anastomoses too. Life really does nothing but diverge: its occasional convergences are superficial resemblances, not a joining or a reabsorption.
A branch on the tree of life may approach another branch; it will not normally coalesce with it. The tree of culture, on the contrary, is a ramification of such coalescences, assimilations, or acculturations. The schematic diagram in Figure 18 visualizes this contrast. It is true that no figure of speech or of drawing will really prove a point like this. Nevertheless the illustration, both in words and in diagram, does validly represent something significant: that the specific processes of life and the specific processes of culture are drastically different.’ (Kroeber 1948, pp. 260-1)
And if you want to pick a topic to do a great PhD, here are some good:
Thoughts, comments, feedback always welcome.
PS – If none of this makes sense, see: Consilience.
JT Velikovsky, PhD – High-RoI Story / Screenplay / Movie & Transmedia Researcher
& Human & Computer Creativity Researcher
& Evolutionary Systems Analyst
See the research in my 2017 doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is reproduced here for the benefit of fellow bio-cultural scholars, and screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see also https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky
JT Velikovsky is a million-selling Transmedia writer-director-producer and game designer & writer. He has also been a professional Story Analyst for major movie studios, film funding organizations, and also for the national writer’s guild. He is also a judge for the writers guild and the director’s guild.
For more, see also the Transmedia-Writing weblog: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/
(for the 1st International Conferences of various random domains in Knowledge / Culture)
Mathematics – the first international conference was in 1897.
Astronomy – 1919
Geology – 1878
Physics – 1911
Chemistry – 1860
Systems Biology – 2010!
Sociology – 1949
World History (1980)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_History_Association (first conference: 1980!)
Politics – 1949
Economics – 1950 (UNESCO)
Medicine – 1788 (Linnean Society again)
Law – 1873
The World Wide Web – 1994
Screenwriting – 2008
The SRN – (2008)
And yes – I know Wikipedia is not a super-scholarly reference. If I have any dates wrong, please let me know! (in the Comments) – many thanks!
Okay and so, in 2019, for fun, I did an over-simplified diagram of:
So maybe see:
On Systems Theory, and Evolution:
- StoryAlity #70 – Key Concepts in Systems Theory, Cybernetics & Evolution
- StoryAlity #70A – The (StoryAlity) Systematizer
- StoryAlity #70B – The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision (Capra & Luisi 2014)
- StoryAlity #70C – Systems Philosophy (Laszlo 1972)
- StoryAlity #70C2 – General Systems Theory: Problems, Perspectives, Practice (Skyttner 2005)
- StoryAlity #70D – The Evolving Self (Csikszentmihalyi 1993)
- StoryAlity #70E – On Human Nature – and Evolutionary Psychology
Thanks for reading!