Epigenetic Rules

1. Summary
2. Examples
2.1. Color Perception
2.2. Mythological Ophidiophobia
2.3. Aristotelian Categorization
2.3.1. Effects on Social Structures
2.3.1.1. Zuni
2.3.1.2. Aboriginal Australians
2.4. Mythology

1. Summary

Epigenesis itself refers to internal genetic changes from environmental or otherwise exterior circumstances; whereas, the epigenetic rules themselves refer to a sort of framework for explaining how certain kinds of cognitive processes evolve, enabling a social organization to create culture. Individual organisms over time develop certain characteristics through genetic inheritence that enable cultural behaviors to be transmitted from generation to generation. Through epigenetic rules certain cultural patterns emerge that are passed on through culture from generation to generation and those patterns are reinforced in the genetic code.

2. Examples

2.1. Color Perception

A shared perception of the color spectrum.

2.2. Mythological Ophidiophobia

A shared fear of snakes across all known cultural mythologies. This combination of various genes survives when the people who feared snakes lived on long enough to pass on their genes(genetic reinforcement). It may in fact be a possible explanation for shared archaetypes across cultural boundaries. Perhaps, even holding an evolutionary role in helping us to survive and reproduce

2.3. Aristotelian Categorization

A shared propensity for categorizing information. Every known culture exhibits these behaviors we call folk taxonomies. Folk taxonomies are the categorizing of plants and animals. They are invariably 5 levels deep(e.g. species,subspecies,etc,...). Commonly, they exhibit genealogical relations, parent-child relations and definitive hierarchies. They are soon embedded within language and perhaps play an evolutionary role in helping survival(knowing which plants or animals are safe).

2.3.1. Effects on Social Structures

2.3.1.1. Zuni
As observed in the Zuni tribe, families were often broken up into groups and given an association with an animal. Dependent upon which animal and its corresponding association, a division of social responsibility would be given to a family(e.g. priests, peacemaker, warrior).
2.3.1.2. Aboriginal Australians
As observed by aborginal tribes in the outback, they would have similiar restrictions only in regards to diet(e.g. one group would only eat emu, another would be restricted to kangaroo[perhaps based upon prior hunting expertise and various skillsets associated with their animal; eventually, forming a deep impact in social permeation. Essentially, exposing a direct relation between how people organize their information and how they organize themselves{medium is the message}])

2.4. Mythology

Epigenetic rules play a role in shaping mythology by providing a framework to capture what they know of the world and preserve it in associations. This soon allows mythologies to emerge as a predominant information system.

*notes taken from a LongNow seminar given by Alex Wright

This article is incomplete and requires expansion.