Events, PotW, The Human Mind Project
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#PotW: Defending the Nature-Culture Divide

When: Thursday 2 March 2017, 5.30 – 7.30pm
Who: The Human Mind Project
Where: The Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Speaker: Professor Maria Kronfeldner, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Central European University

Does new scientific research on development, epigenetics and gene-culture co-evolution show that nature and culture cannot be separated? And what does this assumption mean for our understanding of body and mind?

Drawing on her work in the Philosophy of Life Sciences, Professor Maria Kronfeldner argues in defence of the nature-culture divide. Despite their entanglement at the developmental, epigenetic and evolutionary level, nature and culture are understood as two channels of inheritance, i.e., two bundle terms for two kinds of developmental resources. In this talk, she will explore four aspects that allow us to distinguish between nature and culture.

Talk Abstract

Do new scientific results on development, epigenetics and gene-culture co-evolution show that nature and culture are so entangled that they cannot be separated and that our mind and body need to be conceptualized in a ‘Lamarckian’ manner? This talk will defend the nature-culture divide as adequate – despite the entanglement at the developmental, epigenetic and evolutionary level of explaining our minds and bodies. Nature and culture will be understood as two channels of inheritance, i.e., two bundle terms for two kinds of developmental resources.

Professor Kronfeldner will first discuss four aspects that permit distinguishing between nature and culture in this way. There is (a) a basic distinction between two intergenerational processes – reproduction and social interaction that are the basis for nature and culture as channels (i.e., subsystems) of inheritance; there is (b) near-decomposability of the two resulting channels; (c) these channels exhibit different dynamical orders; finally, (d) there is a specific kind of autonomy of culture from nature, despite all the entanglements usually mentioned in contemporary literature (e.g. embodiment). I will then discuss why also epigenetics and parental effects are not providing a challenge for nature-culture as two channels of inheritance.

For more information visit www.humanmind.ac.uk

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For any queries relating to this event, or for additional information, please email Anna Hopkins

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