Radek Kundt compares the notion of evolution in cultural evolutionary theories with neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory to determine the value of the biological concept for studying culture.
Contemporary Evolutionary Theories of Culture and the Study of Religion surveys the historical background of cultural evolution as used in the study of religion, pinpointing major objections to classical nineteenth-century theories. Radek Kundt argues that contemporary theories of cultural evolution do not repeat the same mistakes but that when they are evaluated in terms of fitting the core requirements of neo-Darwinian natural selection, it is clear that they are not legitimate extensions of neo-Darwinian theory. Rather, they are poor metaphors and misleading analogies which add little to conventional cause-and-effect historiographical work.
This book also introduces an alternative evolutionary approach to the study of culture which does not claim that the principles of neo-Darwinian evolution should be applicable outside the biological domain. Radek Kundt shows that this alternative evolutionary approach nevertheless provides a deeply enriching line of enquiry that incorporates both biological evolutionary history as shaping cultural change and culture as a force acting on the gene.
Radek Kundt is Assistant Professor in the Department for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University, Czech Republic, where he also acts as Director of LEVYNA - Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion.
Preface Introduction Part 1: Classical Cultural Evolutionism 1. Classical Cultural Evolutionism and the Origins of Religious Studies 2. Critique of Classical Cultural Evolutionism Part 2: Contemporary Cultural Evolutionism 3. Group Selection Accounts Group Selection Accounts in Religious Studies Critical analysis of group selection accounts 4. Dual Inheritance Accounts Dual inheritance accounts in Religious Studies Critical analysis of dual inheritance accounts 5. Memetic Accounts Memetic accounts in Religious Studies Critical analysis of memetic accounts Part 3: Evolution Without Cultural Evolution 6. The Evolutionary Study of Culture Without Cultural Evolution 7. An Evolution-Without-Cultural-Evolution Approach in Religious Studies Conclusion Bibliography Index