The Role of Culture in Human Development

The Role of Culture in Human Development

According to Donald, individual human minds did not evolve apart from the group.  He writes,

We have evolved into “hybrid” minds, quite unlike any others, and the reason for our uniqueness does not lie in our brains, which are unexceptional in their basic design.  It lies in the fact that we have evolved such a deep dependency on our collective storage systems, which hold the key to self-assembly. The ultimate irony of human existence is that we are supreme individualists, whose individualism depends almost entirely on culture for its realization.  It came at the price of giving up the isolation, or collective solipsism, of all other species and entering into a collectivity of mind. (Donald, 2001, p. 12)

Our consciousness, self-awareness, sense of self, sense of other selves, sense of the world, and our place in it are all mediated by the cultural constructs and constraints we inhabit.  The poet John Donne recognized this when he wrote, “No man is an island, Entire of itself.  Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

E.O.  Wilson adds,

Human beings are enmeshed in social networks.  Like the proverbial fish in the sea, we find it difficult to conceive of any place different from this mental environment we have evolved.  From infancy we are predisposed to read the intention of others, and quick to cooperate if there is even a trace of shared interest. (Wilson, 2012, p. 227)


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About the Author

John BushJohn Bush and his wife Valarie live in Grass Valley, California. John has enjoyed a diverse life journey. He has been a banker, financial officer, small business owner, ordained minister, addictions counselor and psychotherapist, and nonprofit leader. John earned an MBA from UCLA, an M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Psy. D. from The Professional School of Psychology.

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