Dan Sperber

The Infectiousness of Ideas Publication date : February 1, 1996

Where do our ideas come from ? Some, just from ourselves, or at least we believe so, but the majority come from others which we then pass on in our turn. The age-old philosophical question on the origins of ideas is analysed here in relation to their mode of dissemination. In his search for the natural element of culture, Dan Sperber presents in this book an epidemiology of ideas which describes how they spread by passing from one person to another, undergoing transformations which are in the same category as mutations. He also investigates how these ideas establish themselves in the long-term by occupying our mental world without our conscious knowledge, which allows us to participate in our culture.

Dan Sperber, an anthropologist, is the research director of CNRS.