Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Amazon Fire TV Grocery Amazon Gift Card Offer jrscwrld jrscwrld jrscwrld  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Fall Arrivals in Amazon Outdoor Clothing Kids Halloween

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach 1st Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631200451
ISBN-10: 0631200452
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $3.19
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
Buy new
More Buying Choices
24 New from $36.70 21 Used from $19.95
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Save up to 80% on Textbook Rentals Rent Textbooks
$37.70 FREE Shipping. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach
  • +
  • Ethnic Myths and Pentateuchal Foundations: A New Approach to the Formation of the Pentateuch
  • +
  • Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others (Oxford World's Classics)
Total price: $82.05
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


"Dan Sperber is to be thanked for continuing to contribute to dialogue between the cognitive and social branches of the human sciences." Daniel Nettle, Merton College Oxford

"Apart from its wealth of insight, cogent arguments, apposite illustrations, and lucid and entertaining prose, Explaining Culture also offers a glimpse of what cultural study might be: rather than foreclosing possibilities on the strength of received wisdom or a selective interdisciplinary which rules out so much interesting thinking, it makes its own start on the formulation of fresh, apparently basic but at the same time far-reaching research questions. Alan Durant

"Sperber emphasizes macro-and micro-processes of distribution that make cultural transformation and individual development possible and most simply processes of replication. Sperber offers the beginnings of a naturalistic theory of both culture and religion that will interest students and scholars alike." Susan Henking, Hobart and William Smith Colleges Geneva

"Explaining Culture is a good read. It is full of interesting suggestions on a wide range of anthropological and psychological issues." Kim Sterelny, Music and Letters, Vol 110, July 2001.

From the Back Cover

Ideas, Dan Sperber argues, may be contagious. They may invade whole populations. In the process, the people, their environment, and the ideas themselves are being transformed. To explain culture is to describe the causes and the effects of this contagion of ideas. This book will be read by all those with an interest in the impact of the cognitive revolution on our understanding of culture.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Blackwell Publishers; 1 edition (November 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631200452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631200451
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on November 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Coming from a science background and now working in the humanities, I was initially critical of Sperber's application of empiricism to the social sciences. However, his book is an excellent and necessary resource for anyone studying the development and impact of culture or cultural phenomena. Though I take a different tack to the issues he raises, I will certainly refer to and discuss his ideas in my own future work.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Caton on February 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sperber wants to make anthropology and psychology partners in the construction of a theory of culture centered on `the epidemiology of beliefs'. Epidemiology examines the factors determining the frequency and distribution of diseases in a population. Similarly, the aspiring culturology will map the frequency and distribution of beliefs in a population.

The choice of epidemiology as the model science seems to be based on nothing more than the insinuations of English idiom. Idiom likens the spread of ideas to contagion. We say that ideas, moods, personalities, and fads are infectious. Rumor and disaffection spread like fevers through the body politic. Cheerfulness is contagious-smile and the world smiles with you. But usage provides no clue to causality. It is equally content with mechanical metaphors, such as the `band wagon effect' and the `climate of opinion', while outbreaks of frenzy, mania or hysteria are likened to floods, cyclones and wild fire. Idioms are heedless of the difference between plague and weather as transmission mechanisms. Oddly for an anthropologist, Sperber takes no notice of these clues to how the natives perceive thought transmission. An assessment must be made if we are to avoid confounding `good enough' idiomatic analogies with causal mechanisms.

My suspicion that epidemiology is a red herring deepened on reading Sperber's account of the new culturology. On pages 109 and 112 he introduces graphs representing the spread and transformation of beliefs under the influence of `attractors'. Attractors are characterized in two ways. In one statement, an attractor is `an abstract, statistical concept, like a mutation rate or a transformation probability' (p. 111). Not much is said about it.
Read more ›
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Simply brilliant; Dan Sperber brings his realist view to an area which has previously been explained away with mystic, relativistic stances. Recommended reading for all cultural studies students
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach
This item: Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach
Price: $37.70
Ships from and sold by