Maria Popova reviews 'Wired for Culture' by Mark Pagel.
Language, says Pagel, was instrumental in enabling social learning — our ability to acquire evolutionarily beneficial new behaviors by watching and imitating others, which in turn accelerated our species on a trajectory of what anthropologists call “cumulative cultural evolution,” a bustling of ideas successively building and improving on others. (How’s that for bio-anthropological evidence that everything is indeed a remix?) It enabled what Pagel calls “visual theft” — the practice of stealing the best ideas of others without having to invest the energy and time they did in developing those.
I like to consider it a nice sabot hurled into the steam-engine of anti-piracy ravings.
Read it, I command you: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/02/28/mark-pagel-wired-for-culture/