Lateral and vertical transfer in biology, linguistics and anthropology - An account of widely neglected ideas in the formation of evolutionary theories

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Kressing, Frank; Krischel, Matthis
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preprint description
Models of biological and cultural evolution that developed from the 19th century onward are characterized by two main features:(1)They were mostly centered on the unilinear transmission of cultural and biological replicators (among others, languages), and (2) They were centered on phylogenetic images of descent, that means, specifically, the tree of life and the tree of languages metaphors. The purpose of this paper is to show that theories of unilinear descent in biology, linguistics and anthropology represent just one among several approaches in explain evolutionary development in all three realms. ‘Antidotes’ to the pedigree and tree of life metaphors have been presented as early as phylogenetic models, but have been often neglected, surpressed or simply been ignored. We try to draw attention to these alternative models of lateral and vertical transfer of words, genes, and culture traits which form an indispensable part of an all-encompassing evolutionary epistemiology.