Archive for 05/04/2009

Biology and culture

On the Edge site there is a video featuring Denis Dutton.( here) He is the author of The Art Instinct. What he has to say is a little off the subject of this blog, consciousness, but it does highlight the turf war between biology and culture in explaining human thought.

Darwinian aesthetics is not some kind of ironclad doctrine that is supposed to replace a heavy postructuralism with something just as oppressive. What surprises me about the resistance to the application of Darwin to psychology, is the vociferous way in which people want to dismiss it, not even to consider it. Is this a holdover from Marxism or religious doctrines? I don’t know. Stephen Jay Gould was one of those people who had the idea that evolution was allowed to explain everything about me, my fingernails, my pancreas, the way my body is designed—except that it could have nothing to say about anything above the neck. About human psychology, nothing could be explained in evolutionary terms: we just somehow developed a big brain with its spandrels and all, and that’s it.

Nicely put, I thought.