Cultura atractiva

¿Por qué existe la cultura? ¿Que es lo que mueve a las personas a escribir poemas, pintar o cantar? La mayoría de las personas que se dedican a esas actividades responderían con respuestas como: "Porque me gusta" o "porque me llena", cuando no "me siento obligado a no desperdiciar mi talento". Suelen creer que la cultura refleja la existencia de un tipo de alma o que es una expresión de la inteligencia y la creatividad humanas.

Las ciencias naturales tienen –como con tanta frecuencia ocurre– una respuesta más vulgar y que tiene que ver con la selección natural. En su fructífera obra sobre la evolución, Sobre el origen de las especies mediante la selección natural o La preservación de las razas favorecidas en la lucha por la vida, Charles Darwin utilizó la tan citada expresión "supervivencia de los mejor dotados". A la mayoría de las personas les resulta fácil entender que ser particularmente fuerte o rápido o apto para resistir el hambre, el calor o el frío puede aumentar las posibilidades de supervivencia. También la inteligencia entra dentro de esa categoría, pero introducir a la fuerza la excelencia cultural en el grupo de características que definen a "los mejor dotados" no es tan fácil y requiere un salto propio de la fe.

En su obra posterior, Darwin introdujo otros criterios de selección que pueden ser igualmente importantes, pero a los que se ha prestado mucha menos atención: la preferencia en el apareamiento o la selección sexual. Su razón para hacerlo iba encaminada a explicar las plumas de la cola del pavo real macho, que constituyen un estorbo evidente, y la melena, aparentemente inútil, del león macho. Esas características reducirían, en lugar de intensificar, las posibilidades de supervivencia para su portador, pero, evidentemente, han prevalecido generación tras generación. Así –sostuvo Darwin–, al volver más atractivos los machos para las hembras, han de aumentar las probabilidades de tener más descendencia.

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