Ever-expanding horizons: the dual informational sources of by Carl P. Swanson

By Carl P. Swanson

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But both images and symbols are traps, for in selecting them we leave out that which is not selected. Our being and our existence are thereby circumscribed, culturally because we cannot participate in, let alone comprehend, all experiences, and biologically because we cannot escape beyond the limits of our inherited potential. However, our genetic and cultural attributes complement each other to give us a reality different from and expanded far beyond that attainable by any other species, although that pla- Page 7 teau was reached through a continuum of change covering many millennia, and not by the sudden emergence of a unique and unshared quality.

Human beings are not unique in having dual inheritances; any animal capable of learning acquires information through experience, but what does make human beings unique is the degree to which such experiences contribute to the final fashioning of the individual. , much behavior is probably genetically determined) and of the social environment within which the individual has his being. The biology and culture of the human species can scarcely be considered unrelated to each other, but the relative contributions of nature (biology) and nurture (culture) to the phenotypic expression of an individual have not been satisfactorily resolved.

It has already been mentioned that some plant species can arise abruptly and successfully as a result of interspecific hybridization accompanied by polyploidy. The domesticated wheats, tobaccos, and cottons are probably examples of such sudden emergences, and the fact that of the species of flowering plants more than one-third are polyploid indicates that such circumstances are not uncommon. The recent analysis of paleontological data is also pertinent in this regard. Some 230 million years ago, at the juncture of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, and again at the end of the Cretaceous period, about 65 million years ago, vast assemblages of species disappeared from the fossil record through what seems to have been mass extinction.

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