Humanization: Evolutionary, social, and cognitive foundations of cultural development
Every biological species has a specific environment composed of perceivable elements and spheres of activity. It includes factors such as conspecifics, animate and inanimate objects, possibilities for contact between them, as well as the dimension of time, in which these elements can be regarded as relevant and are able to interact with one another. Within this partly natural, partly cognitively and culturally determined environment, the cognitive space of an organism emerges out of a phylogenetic-biological, an ontogenetic-individual, and a historical-cultural dimension. The cognitive and cultural evolution of man is not to be seen as a constant process of adaptation to an independent environment existing equally for every being, it is rather to be seen as a process of co-evolution of interrelated systems. In the course of human development, it is particularly the historical-cultural dimension of cognition and the specific environment that – contingent on each other – expand in scope.
Against this background, how can we detect the specific genetic, cellular, and organismic traits typical of the modern human? And how can we conceive the respective adaptive performances as conditions for cultural development? How can the characteristics of human cultures (e.g., their conservatism, their innovative and accumulative capacity, their historicity, their symbolic nature, and their variability) be linked to biological factors of humanization, and what role does genetic restructuring play in this process?
This subproject aims to develop a framework based on theoretical and philosophical-anthropological assumptions, in order to better understand the bio-cultural process of human evolution along the corporal-based enunciation. For this purpose, we want to correlate the different timescales of human development, i.e., phylogenesis, sociogenesis, and ontogenesis. The given genetic endowment of humans is hereby regarded both as a precondition for cultural development as well as the plastic organic matrix that reacts in a series of interactions to cultural processes.