Cultures as Supraorganismal Wholes

  • Michael T. Ghiselin
Part of the Perspectives in Ethology book series (PEIE, volume 13)


What do we mean by culture? This question has much in common with some that have been asked in the philosophy of taxonomy. The idea that species are not kinds of organisms, but rather wholes composed of organisms, suggests that cultural units may likewise be wholes made up of parts. If so, they are individuals rather than classes in an ontological sense. There are some very strong analogies between biological species and certain cultural units, especially languages. But there are also important differences, and identifying the wholes and their parts can be difficult. This contribution explores some of the possibilities, especially the relation of compatibility among the parts.


Biological Species Mass Noun Species Problem Cultural Unit Tangible Object 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Ghiselin
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the History and Philosophy of ScienceCalifornia Academy of SciencesSan FranciscoUSA

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