May 20, 2008

A Cross-paradigmatic Study of Social Evolution

As knowledge and methods become globally available, the human sciences are becoming positioned to provide unprecedented innovations in theory and application. However, the realization of a critical and integrative analysis of human social evolution is often hampered by continuous academic specialization and parochial adherence to traditional practices and discourses.

One of the main objectives of the Integral Research Group is to make theoretical and practical contributions to a more integrative understanding of human life. As such, we continue to provide opportunities and information that both challenges and advances the broader ‘integral approach’.

In the following study, anthropologist Ben Fitzhugh goes against the current academic pressures and attempts a critical rethinking and synthesis of the extensive research done on social evolution, the development of power dynamics and inequality in human civilization:

Thoughts on the Evolution of Social Inequality: A Paradigmatic Analysis - by Ben Fitzhugh

"The decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneously the decision to accept another, and the judgment leading to that decision involves the comparison of both paradigms with nature and with each other." (Kuhn 1970:77)

'This paper seeks to challenge disciplinary entrenchment through a logical critique of several competing paradigms. To make this problem tractable, I will focus specifically on the issue of the social evolution of hunter-gatherer societies and compare models from the theoretical paradigms of cultural ecology, Marxism, practice theory, and evolutionary ecology. Because the empirical data for testing alternative models of social evolution is necessarily time transgressive, the focus of this paper is primarily archaeological.'

Read the full paper: Here

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