Prof. Dr. Friedemann Schrenk

Prof. Dr. Friedemann Schrenk, 1999
Deputy Director of the National Museum in Darmstadt,
Senckenberg Research Institute and the Natural History Museum in Frankfurt (Head of Palaeoanthropology)

The biocultural evolutional


Former deputy director of the Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, Frankfurt (Head of Palaeoanthropology)

The Biocultural Evolution

“The crucial question is the one about the storage of cognition and intelligence. Doubtlessly there are mechanisms in existence, even though they have not been neither scientifically examined, nor understood. The meaning of the formula life+cognition=art is the definition of that gap in the usual scientific point of view.’’

The artformula as the center point of the exhibition art open fascinates not only artexperts but contains as well highly valuable informations for »Natur historians ». The principle of evolu- tion as a slowly advancing development is also taken by the biological and cultural evolution of mankind as a modell. Our own roots are to be found in nature as well. Therefore mankind strives for continuity like all life forms on earth. All processes of life are subordinated to that goal either by growing within the individual or by reproduction among the following genera- tions. This is unthinkable if informations would not be passed on. Even though the origin and the history of original information remains controversial the first development of self-preser- vative systems of organic molecules and by that the origin of individual life is plausibel expli- cable. Everything else is an evolutionary change and a constant increase of complexity of the organisms throughout millards of years – in dependence of the individual constructive pre- conditions of the organisms through genetic mutation within the generations and individually selection depending on the biotope.

Among our ancestors of us human beings were two other aspects important which are the social behaviour and the capabilty to learn. Besides this socialising development an occuren- ce took place during the process of becoming a human being which we know as the indivi- dualising trend which was shown at first by the manufacturing and the usage of tools. Latest 2,5 Mio. years ago human beings used tools specifically in order to reduce unwanted climate influences. This marks the beginning of the cultural evolution and the increasing dependence on technical assistance of the human beings until this day.

The thinking, speaking, cultural and cognition capabilities which are based on the materiali- stic potential of the brains are in their outcome not completely free but canalised due to a long chain of historical preconditions throughout a long phase of evolution.

This does not mean however that this development was going on purpose in a certain direc- tion or that it was impossible for a new situation to develop because of various factors encountering each other in a certain environment.

While the expansion of the brains served since about 2 million years an increasing absorption of informations and its processing and passing-on which contributed to the genesis of the capability to have a culture of mankind was the actual cultural explosion in evoluion of man- kind initiated only a few thousand yearsago: Besides the brains »grew« new, this time exter- nal informationstorages: clay-panel, papyrus, paper, magnetic tapes, CDROM. The non- genetic transfer of informations is among people nowadays much faster, more complex and more important as the genetical. Since about 2,5 million years decreases the biological evo- lution of mankind (transport of informationsthrough genes), but the cultural evolution through watching and listening absorbed by the transport of informations through language increases continually.Since the effects of both trends of evolution cover each other once in a while and have a certain effect on the other it appears to be plausible to suppose a »biocultural « evo- lution in mankind which makes the genesis of typical human qualities possible. The crucial question is the one about the storage of cognition and intelligence. Doubtlessly there are mechanisms in existence, even though they have not been neither scientifically examined, nor understood. The meaning of the formula life+cognition=art is the definition of that gap in the usual scientific point of view. If there are mechanisms for the inheritence of knowledge and experience they are going to be accessible for the scientifical research. The therefore possible precise intervention and the rapid accelaration of the biocultural evolution would lead to better results than the nowadays possible cloning. After close observation the artfor- mula of the art open life + cognition = art is maybe evena theoretical concyept for the biocul- tural evolution of mankind in general.