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Compare or contrast Edward O. Wilson’s views on the interaction between nature and...

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user8455481 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:34 PM via web

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Compare or contrast Edward O. Wilson’s views on the interaction between nature and culture in "The Fitness of Human Nature" with those of Ruth Benedict in The Individual and the Pattern of Culture. 

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:23 PM (Answer #1)

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While Benedict's aim (1920s to 1930s) was to find what unified each culture making it a group, Wilson's aim (1990s to 2000s) is to bridge what he calls the human/nature divide, the divide that can separate humans from natural habitats in ways that other animal species cannot be separated from natural habitats.

Benedict resolved her question by asserting that it is each individual's values and attitudes and how these attitudes and values are shared within a cultural group that bind and form the defining strictures and features of a given culture (or course this assertion calls up the question of from whence individuals' values and attitudes come).

Wilson resolves his quest to bridge the human/nature gap by asserting that environmental pressures related to Darwinian natural selection programmed the human genome and that the human gnome programmed the human brain. The human brain then developed and "prescribes" "epigenetic rules" that determine emotional "proclivities" (tendencies, leanings, regularly repeated choices) that serve as the "impetus" (compelling force, momentum) behind the forms of human culture; "forms" does not equate with specific particulars as cultures differ widely in specific particulars.


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