Section 1


Outline of Human Phylogeny

Evolutionary Trees
and DNA

Brain Evolution

Hand and Bipedality

Section 2
Social and socio-
cultural systems

Primate societies

Social relations and the evolution of culture

Social relations, communication and cognition

Human socio-cultural patterns

Tools and symbolic behaviour

Palaeolithic Art

Contemporary hunter-gatherer art

Section 3
Ontogeny and symbolism

Editorial Introduction: Ontogeny & Phylogeny

The role of ontogenesis

Brain, cognition, and language

Early interaction and cognitive skills

Language and thought

Theories of symbolization
and development

Children's drawings and the evolution of art

Section 4
Language systems

Spoken language and
sign language

The gestural primacy hypothesis

Comparative cognition

Animal language and cognition

Language acquisition


The prehistory of grammar

Writing systems


Links Policy

Relevant Links

Social relations, human ecology, and the evolution of culture: an exploration of concepts and definitions

Tim Ingold

'Society' and 'culture' are among the most contentious concepts of the human sciences. Sometimes treated as virtually synonymous, sometimes radically distinguished, their study has been maintained as the particular preserve of social and cultural anthropology, at the same time as it has been opened up by biologists to embrace almost the entire field of animal behaviour. This chapter is an attempt to resolve some of the conceptual ambiguities surrounding these notions, through an exploration of both the continuities and the contrasts between the worlds of humanity and of non-human animals. The argument is presented in three main parts. The first examines alternative foundations of sociality, distinguishing its interactive, regulative, and constitutive forms, and establishes the connections between social life, consciousness, and culture. This leads, in the second part, to a discussion of the ways in which human beings and other animals construct their environments, and to a characterization of the connection, established in production, between social and ecological systems. In the third part, a contrast is set up between definitions of culture that emphasize its non-genetic mode of transmission, and those that rest on the symbolic organization of experience. This contrast is linked to the distinction between learning and teaching, and to alternative views of the possible analogies and contrasts between 'biological' and 'cultural' evolution. The chapter concludes with a word on the relation between learning, thinking, and consciousness.