Standard Equipment

Some years ago anthropologist Donald E. Brown published a book called Human Universals. Its argument is that there are cultural traits that can be found in every human society – universal characteristics that, because they are manifest in all cultures throughout history and in all environmental settings, clearly must represent innate features of human nature. Such an idea, of course, flies in the face of the “progressive” intellectual fashions of the past century, fashions that persist to this day, as discussed in a previous post.

Dr. Brown has compiled a list of these ubiquitous human traits; you can read it here.

Among them are, to pick a few more or less at random:

  • division of labor by sex
  • ethnocentrism
  • males more prone to lethal violence
  • right-handedness as population norm
  • good and bad distinguished
  • weapons
  • tabooed utterances
  • sex differences in spatial cognition and behavior
  • grammar
  • rape
  • rape proscribed
  • male and female and adult and child seen as having different natures
  • belief in supernatural/religion
  • females do more direct childcare
  • collective identities
  • dance
  • jokes
  • males dominate public/political realm

It is a long list. Many of the entries are behaviors that utopian cultural engineers insist are the result of alterable habits of “socialization”.

Only when we frankly acknowledge what we are can we begin to live in better harmony with ourselves.

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