TOWARD A THEORY OF CULTURE AND ADAPTIVE POTENTIAL
The theory of culture commonly used in science and lay writings alike is inadequate for interdisciplinary research and cannot incorporate recent findings in the biological and behavioral sciences. Nor can the commonly used theory deal adequately with questions of cultural well-being and cultural pathology. Attempts to develop new theories of culture with epidemiological models and notions like memes have been limited in their usefulness. This paper suggests a new evolutionary approach that spans both the phenomenal and ideational worlds and speaks to questions of agency in cultural transmission. The main emphasis of the theory concerns adaptive potential with some preliminary measures of cultural well-being that predict physical and mental health. Adaptive potential theory can also be used to define modalities of interpersonal relationships. This latter application of the theory suggests areas of theoretical development and testing for future work.