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Neuroscience Can Help Us Understand Social Transitions

  • John M. Gowdy


    (Department of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY 12180-3590, USA)

Human cultural adaptability helped our species get through several extreme environmental crises during the 200,000 year history of Homo sapiens. Richerson, Boyd and Henrich (2010) argue that this adaptability is a product of gene-culture coevolution. Much has been written about cultural evolution, but relatively little attention has been paid to the role human neurobiology plays in this process. I argue here that neuroscience can make important contributions to understanding human behavior within highly evolved social systems. This can help inform us as to how a transition to sustainability might be possible as we struggle to make it through the population, climate change, and resource bottlenecks of the 21st century. I argue further than the idea of homeostasis can serve as an organizing principle to understand individual, social and ecological sustainability.Creation-Date: 2010-11

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Paper provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics in its series Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics with number 1009.

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Handle: RePEc:rpi:rpiwpe:1009
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