chapter  2
50 Pages

Sociobiology, the New Synthesis? An Anthropologist’s Perspective

WithJames Silverberg

This chapter examines whether sociobiology entails a reduction of sociological concerns to biological ones instead of a synthesis. Anthropologists have long been concerned with the evolution of humans as biological organisms and with the evolution of culture. Biological/physical anthropologists explain human variation in bodily form and function in terms of the interaction of hereditary and environmental factors. The universal occurrence of language in human populations is and has long been of vital importance to anthropologists. The significance of language for human behavior or for culture in general has generated some disagreement among anthropologists in their theoretical orientation and even in the way they collect field data. Human language is sometimes distinguished from other forms of communication in terms of the making and using of symbols rather than signals. The distinction of genetic from innovated, of sexual transmission from social had to do with the source and perpetuation of particular behavioral forms.