Darwinian Creativity and Memetics
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Series: Acumen Research Editions
Author(s): Maria Kronfeldner  
ISBN: 1844652564
ISBN-13: 9781844652563
Publication Date: 31 Mar 2011
Pages: 192 (234 x 156mm)
Format: Hardback
Published Price: £40.00
Discount Price: £32.00
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Cultural change is explained by creativity and diffusion. But how can we in turn explain creativity and diffusion? How can we explain that human beings produce new answers to new challenges, and how can we explain why certain ideas spread and others do not?

In this book Maria Kronfeldner critically evaluates two influential approaches to cultural change that explain creativity and diffusion as an evolutionary process by drawing an analogy between culture and nature: the Darwinian approach to creativity and the theory of memes, or memetics. The Darwinian approach to creativity maintains that a process of blind variation and selection creates novelty in culture. Memetics goes further by claiming that we can ignore or even eliminate the human mind as the main causal force in the explanation of creativity and culture. Memes, rather than minds, are the agents of cultural change.

In a penetrating analysis Kronfeldner shows analogical reasoning from evolutionary biology to cultural change lacks the necessary descriptive adequacy, explanatory force and heuristic value to be successful. Indeed she shows that both the Darwinian approach to creativity and memetics are mere reformulations, in Darwinian language, of what has been known already and offer no new explanatory tools.

The book provides an acute philosophical examination of Darwinian creativity and memetics from within the respective evolutionary approaches and introduces and combines debates from genetics, evolutionary biology, psychology, anthropology, science studies and philosophy. It will be of interest to a wide range of readers in these fields.

"Kronfeldner carefully details all the arguments for memetics over a range of disciplines where different formulations are given, designed to solve problems and meet criticisms. Her detailed conceptual analyses expose their ambiguities and incoherencies and systematically demolish them all. There is far more in the book than this, however. Kronfeldner has used the critique of memetics to clarify the proper use of analogy in science and the nature of scientific description, explanation and heuristics." – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Maria Kronfeldner has a Junior Professorship in Philosophy at Bielefeld University, Germany.

1. Light will be thrown
2. Darwinian principles
3. The origin of novelty
4. Guided variation
5. The units of culture
6. Memes or minds
7. Conclusion