Olivier Morin

How Traditions Are Born And Die Cultural Trans Publication date : October 6, 2011

Olivier Morin is a specialist in the interactions between psychology and the social sciences, particularly anthropology. He has a doctorate in cognitive science from the Institut Jean Nicod (PhD dissertation on cultural transmission under the direction of Dan Sperber), Ecole en Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). He is a founding member of the International cognition and culture institute a web site dedicated to discussions between anthropologists and cognitive scientists.

Culture cannot exist without tradition and transmission. How does cultural transmission operate? Does it take place exclusively from older to younger generations, as was traditionally assumed?
No, argues the author, for whom cultural transmission within a given generation is as significant as transmission between generations. We do not spontaneously copy everything that we see around us and each culture consists of various traditions that are all fairly independent.
It thus becomes easier to understand why certain traditions perpetuate themselves and others don’t, and why these traditions are more common among humans than among other species. Ranging from childhood games to the animal kingdom and from the Western world to the universe of spirit worshippers, Olivier Morin offers a fascinating new reading of cultural life, in all its “capricious selectivity”.

• Olivier Morin is a brilliant young author working at the crossroads of philosophy, anthropology and psychology.
• A highly innovative work, finely analysed and written.