Friday, May 11, 2012

Ugo Pagano - Love, War and Cultures: An Institutional Approach to Human Evolution

This paper looks at the roles of love, war, and culture in the evolution of human culture. According to Pagano, all three are inter-related. The paper deals with evolution from the collective perspective - culture and institutions.

Ugo Pagano

University of Siena - Department of Economics; Central European University (CEU)

Journal of Bioeconomics, Forthcoming

Love, War and Culture have all played an important role in the evolution of human institutions and they have been characterized by complex relationships. War can select unselfish groups ready to sacrifice themselves for the love of their communities that they recognize to be culturally different from the others. At the same time, horizontal cultural differentiation cannot be taken for granted. Culture is the outcome of long evolutionary processes. It requires some human specific characteristics, including a large brain, that are likely to have been influenced by sexual selection and by the peculiar structure of human love affairs. Thus, if war may have generated love, also the reverse may be true: by favoring the development of human culture, love may have produced the conditions for war among culturally differentiated groups. In turn, war may have co-evolved with group solidarity only under the prevailing social arrangements of hunting and gathering economies. In general, human relations have been influenced by the prevailing features of the goods (private, public and positional) that have characterized production in different stages of history. They have been embedded in institutions involving very different levels of inequality, ranging from mostly egalitarian hunting and gathering societies to typically hierarchical agrarian societies and to wealth-differentiated industrial societies. The perspectives of the present-day knowledge-intensive economy can also be seen through the same institutional approach to human evolution. The different nature of contemporary production processes involves a new set of alternative possible arrangements that have different implications for social (in)equality and different capabilities to satisfy basic human needs.
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Suggested Citation:
Pagano, U. (April 10, 2012). Love, War and Cultures: An Institutional Approach to Human Evolution. Journal of Bioeconomics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:
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