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Aestheticism in the Theory of Custom

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  • Schlicht Ekkehart

    (University of Munich)

Abstract

La nature des processus d’apprentissage ainsi que les considérations évolutionaires suggèrent que le jugement esthétique est d’une importance centrale dans la formation des coutumes. L’ apprentissage et l’extrapolation prennent appui sur les évaluations de caractéristiques noninstrumentales telles que la simplicité, l’analogie, la droiture et la clarté. De plus, l’apprentissage est particulièrement efficace s’il est animé par un désir actif de découvrir de nouvelles régularités, plutôt que de rassembler simplement des informations de manière passive.A partir d’une perspective évolutionaire, l’apprentissage a évolué par adaptation aux changements rapides et environnementaux qui ne peuvent être efficacement traduits par les processus évolutifs lents et de long terme qui se situent au niveau génétique. La “raison d’être” évolutionaire de l’apprentissage est de permettre aux individus de chercher sans cesse à découvrir de nouvelles régularités et d’agir sur elles de manière appropriée. De même que l’apprentissage dépend des jugements esthétiques, la sélection évolutionaire pour l’apprentissage implique une matrice évolutionaire du sens esthétique, et une préférence pour des modèles et des actions stéréotypées qui en fin de compte conduisent à la formation de coutumes et d’une compréhension sociale. L’article est, ainsi, une présentation évolutionaire étayée des tendances “behaviorales” sous-tendant ma théorie des coutumes.The nature of learning processes as well as evolutionary considerations suggest that aesthetic judgement is of central importance in the formation of custom. Learning and extrapolation rely on evaluations of non-instrumental features like simplicity, analogy, straightforwardness, and clarity. Further, learning is particularly effective if it is driven by an active desire to uncover new regularities, rather than merely gathering information in a passive way.From an evolutionary perspective, learning has evolved as an adaptation to fast and transitory environmental changes which cannot be effectively traced by the slow and long-term evolutionary processes which take place on the genetic level. The evolutionary raison d’être of learning is to enable the individual to incessantly search for upcoming new regularities, and to act appropriately on them. As learning depends on aesthetic judgement, the evolutionary selection for learning implies an evolutionary molding of an aesthetic sense, and a preference for patterns and patterned action which ultimately leads to the formation of custom and social learning. The paper presents, thus, an evolutionary underpinning for the behavioral tendencies underlying my theory of custom.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

Volume (Year): 10 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 1-21

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:10:y:2000:i:1:n:2

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Cited by:
  1. Loasby, Brian J., 2002. "The evolution of knowledge: beyond the biological model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8-9), pages 1227-1239, December.
  2. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2001. "Custom," Discussion Papers in Economics 19, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Uta-Maria Niederle, 2004. "From Possession to Property: Preferences and the Role of Culture," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-06, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.

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