Human behaviour is both part of nature and nurture. The genes that define each of us are the way nature expresses itself. Nurture offers us other things that nature failed to give. One of these things is culture. According to the book “Anthropology: The Human Challenge”, culture is “a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values and perceptions, which are used to make sense of experience and generate behaviour and are reflected in that behaviour. ” To simplify, culture is the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group. Culture) How can we say that a certain trait is a cultural manifestation? There are five characteristics of culture: learned, shared, symbolic, integrated, and dynamic. (Haviland, Prins and Walrath) Basically, culture is learned. It is not inherited through genes though some people believe that certain cultural mannerisms can be. One good example would be the common Filipino religion practice, which is praying. Devout Filipino Catholics say their prayer before and after meals. In catholic and some non-sectarian schools, the teachers train the children to pray together before and after their break time.
Saying that a certain cultural trait, like praying before meal, is inherited is a misconception. There is no scientific explanation to say that it can be biologically transmitted. A person cannot be born and eventually know his social group’s basic ideas and practices. He doesn’t even know that he belongs to a group. He has to learn things from experience, knowledge, and habits through the use of senses. Culture can be socially transmitted by imitation, instruction, and observation which are all easily offered by mass media today. Culture is shared.
The society’s ideas, tradition, standard values, and customs are familiar to its members. They can predict what the other members can do in a situation. Without this trait, culture cannot be understood by others. When you eat with someone and notice that he/she prays before and after meal, you either stay silent to respect what he/she does or join in praying. A certain culture is not only shared among its members but it is also respected by people from other cultures as well. Culture is based on symbols. According to Haviland, language is a symbol.
People communicate and understand each other through the use of words. People also use language as a tool to transfer cultural ideas and perspective. Pictures and physical attributes can also be used as symbols. Whenever you see a picture of a blue eagle, you will relate it to Ateneo. In UP, whenever there is a girl with a semi-bald hair, some students would relate her to UP Pep Squad. The Philippine national anthem is a symbolism of our country and its people. Culture is integrated. Everything is connected to everything else.
Filipino religious belief is related to the way we celebrate holidays, what we are forbidden to eat, what ideas we believe in, and among others. Muslims don’t eat pork as it is part of Islamic belief. Their males are allowed to marry more than one woman. They are also required to pray five times a day as part of the Five Pillars of Islam. Culture is dynamic. It changes over time. An example would be the traditional Filipino courtship. Back then, Filipino men court through serenading, working and helping in the household, and visiting and bringing gifts to please the ladies they like.
Nowadays, girls and boys do not undergo such process. With the help of modern technology, chatting and texting became the form of flowers and songs. Sometimes, women make the first move which is contrary to what a traditional Filipina must do when it comes to love. Culture evolves through the introduction of new technology, culture from other social group, and the influence of mass media. Culture is inherent to the human population. Without culture, people can’t possibly live peacefully with one another. It continually evolves to capture and satisfy our needs. It changes with our biological features.
In this note, we define human evolution. Evolution is the “process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth. ” (Evolution) There are four evolutionary forces that are responsible for the change in the genetic composition: mutation, genetic drift, gene flow, and natural selection. (Haviland, Prins and Walrath) Mutation is a “chance alteration of genetic material that produces new variation. ” (Haviland, Prins and Walrath) It is a change, insertion, or duplication in the DNA segment.
It can affect the genotype or even the phenotype of a certain organism. One trait that was favoured in the survival of human race is aggression. Mutations in genes affecting the aggressive behaviour of the person can increase either the passivity or the aggression. When humans were still gatherers, this trait helped them in gathering food, finding their mates, and protecting them against predators. (Edwards, Rollmann and Morgan) Genetic drift is a “chance fluctuations of allele frequencies in the gene pool of a population. ” It is more significant to small populations than to large populations. Haviland, Prins and Walrath) For example, there are 1000 people in population of city A. Half of the population has green eyes and the other half has blue eyes. Four hundred people with green eyes died because of an avalanche. So, there will be a decrease of percentage of people with green eyes in the population. This also decreases the chance of producing an offspring that has green eyes. While genetic drift decreases the total amount of variation in a population, gene flow does the opposite. It is the “introduction of alleles from gene pool of one population into that of another. (Haviland, Prins and Walrath) An example would be the arrival of the Spanish colonial in the Philippines. Before their “discovery” of the Philippines, the natives almost had brownish skin color. The appearance of the Spaniards in the Philippines added another variation in skin color. So, a Filipina and a Spanish man can produce a combination of both races. Natural selection is “defined as the evolutionary process through which factors in the environment exert pressure, favouring some individuals over others to produce the next generation. (Haviland, Prins and Walrath) Most commonly related to the phrase “survival of the fittest”, it is the most famous among the evolutionary forces. The strongest and fastest man wins the race. For example, a woman’s reproductive success depends on the man she chooses. Usually, females pick males with good quality genes, i. e. handsome, tall, and intelligent. It is also better for women to select older partners because they can provide well for the family in the future. So, men should prove to women that they are worthy to be the chosen one, not the other way around.
If the roles are reversed, that is males bear children, then females should be the one chasing over men. That is the rule of nature. Scientists continue to do research on the evolutionary forces to find the missing link between humans and their ancestors. There is one thing they had found out to be one of the key features in tracing out the biological revolution: bipedalism. It is “the mode of locomotion in which an organism walks upright on its two hind legs. ” (Haviland, Prins and Walrath) It is the defining characteristic of humans and their ancestors.
In bipedalism, the skull position should be centered above the spinal column. The foramen magnum, or the opening of the spinal cord, of the knuckle-walker is placed toward the back of the skull. Tarzan, a Disney character, grew up with the gorillas. He learned to knuckle-walk. But, because his skull is positioned at the center like every human does, he also has the ability to walk upright. The pelvis of a human is wider compared to chimps. This is needed to provide structural support in the upper part of the body.
As you can imagine, four-legged walkers like chimps and apes use only little amount of support for the upper body so they have elongated pelvis. Around the Renaissance Period, fat women were considered beautiful, being a sign of affluence. It is also a sign of child-bearing. Back then, people believe that the bigger the hips, the better the chance of producing a healthy offspring. Bipedal locomotion is also present in the characteristic stride of humans. It is the “process of shifting the body’s weight from one foot to the other as the non-supporting foot swings forward. (Haviland, Prins and Walrath) Have you ever watched a fashion show? Models have that signature walk, which is called catwalk. It is only a walk but people consider it as something unique and beautiful. Would the chimps consider us unique since we have a signature stride compared to their own walk? Through the years, people try to understand how evolution affected human behaviour. Though many things have been discovered to prove the connection, there are still manners that are vague to interpret in connection to the human timeline. Will a thousand years of study be enough to provide evidence for a billion years of evolution?
“Culture.” Oxford Dictionaries Online. 5 December 2012 <http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/culture?region=us&q=culture>. Edwards, Alexis, et al. Quantitative Genomics of Aggressive Behavior in Drosophila melanogaster (2006). “Evolution.” Oxford Dictionaries Online. 10 December 2012 <http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/evolution>. Haviland, William, et al. Anthropology: The Human Challenge. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning, 2011. “Human Culture: What is culture?” 26 May 2006. Human Culture. 5 December 2012 <http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_1.htm>.