Khác Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology

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    by Hilary Rose (Editor),‎ Steven Rose (Editor)
    • Hardcover: 352 pages
    • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (October 10, 2000)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0609605135
    • ISBN-13: 978-0609605134
    In recent years, the claims of genetics and evolutionary psychology to explain and indeed legislate on the human condition have been loudly trumpeted in a host of popular books. Genes are said to account for almost every aspect of our lives. Evolution is supposed to explain alleged human universals, from male philandering and female coyness to children's dislike of spinach. There are even claimed to be genes that account for differences between people -- from sexual orientation to drug addiction, aggression, religiosity, and job satisfaction. It appears that Darwin, at least in the hands of his popularizers, has replaced Marx and Freud as the great interpreter of human existence.

    Biologists, social scientists, and philosophers have begun to rebel against this undisciplined approach to their different understandings of the world, demonstrating that the claims of evolutionary psychology rest on shaky empirical evidence, flawed premises, and unexamined political presuppositions. In this groundbreaking book, Hilary Rose and Steven Rose have gathered the leading and outspoken critics of this fashionable ideology in a shared and uniquely cross-disciplinary project. Contributors range from biologists Stephen Jay Gould, Gabriel Dover, Patrick Bateson, and Anne Fausto-Sterling; to anthropologists and sociologists Dorothy Nelkin, Tim Ingold, Tom Shakespeare, and Ted Benton; to philosopher Mary Midgley and cultural critics Barbara Herrnstein Smith and Charles Jencks.

    The result of this joint work, Alas Poor Darwin, is a sharply engaged, accessible, and highly entertaining critique of evolutionary psychology's tenets. What emerges is a new perspective that challenges the reductionism of evolutionary psychology and offers a richer understanding of the biosocial nature of the human condition.

    Amazon.com Review
    Turf battles are always interesting and occasionally enlightening. Social scientists have been fairly slow in responding to the encroachment of biologically oriented evolutionary psychology, but they have come to mount a vigorous defense against what they perceive to be an oversimplified and dehumanizing theoretical scheme. Alas, Poor Darwin, edited by sociologist Hilary Rose and neuroscientist Steven P.R. Rose, collects essays from scientists and social critics united in their disdain for the extremes of such EP proponents as Richard Dawkins and Edward O. Wilson. Though many writers rely on arguments based on our seemingly innate revulsion for determinism, often enough they rise up out of their easy rhetoric to score more legitimate points. Evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould, for example, reprises his spandrel metaphor to show that not all biological features were forged in the fires of natural selection. Unfortunately, the reader has to wait until the book's end for the only critique of evolutionary psychology that is both thorough and scientific; Steven Rose's piece is engaging and challenging, pursuing the invaders back to their own territory using the only arguments they're likely to take seriously. Alas, Poor Darwin won't fully satisfy any reader, but it will provoke thought, discussion, and probably more argument among all who are interested in the nature of human nature. --Rob Lightner

    From Publishers Weekly
    Over the last two decades, certain famous scientists and science writersAamong them E.O. Wilson, Steven Pinker and Robert WrightAhave attempted to explain human behavior on a genetic basis, arguing that genes control, in more or less testable ways, specific human feelings, acts and propensities, from altruism to clarinet playing to rape; that these behaviors have been produced by natural selection; and that evolutionary theory might be both necessary and sufficient to explain much of human thought, action and culture. Together these propositions go under the name of evolutionary psychology. This polemical, often convincing anthology brings 16 prominent scientists and humanists together to say that evolutionary psychology's proponents are wrong, wrong, wrong. British sociologist Hilary Rose and neuroscientist Steven Rose orchestrate attacks on the theory from all angles. Some essays contend that it misunderstands the mechanisms of evolution, and that some of its "proofs" are really tautologies. Others contrast evolutionary psychology's simplistic models with empirical studies of child development and with the lessons of new research on the brain. Molecular biologist Gabriel Dover takes issue with Richard Dawkins's "selfish gene," while philosopher Mary Midgley dissects his popular concept of "memes." Steven Jay Gould distinguishes Darwin's admirable "pluralism" from the neo-"fundamentalism" of evolutionary psychology. Biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling arguest that its story about sex and gender might be no more than a folktale. And anthropologist Tim Ingold attacks factitious "divisions between body, mind and culture" in a fascinating piece on the art of walking. While it would be stimulating to watch the two sides duke it out in one volume, this book makes a number of powerful cases for the anti side. (Oct.)
    Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

    From Vui lòng đăng nhập hoặc đăng ký để xem link
    A descendant of sociobiology, the controversial field championed by E. O. Wilson in the 1970s, evolutionary psychology in contemporary times purports to embed human behavior and culture in a genetic context. This volume exhibits a backlash among academics to evolutionary psychology's totalistic claims, as outlined in such well-known books as Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene (1976), Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995), or Wilson's recent Consilience (1998). The dozen contributors, among them Stephen Jay Gould, round on what they believe is an unjustifiably reductionist interpretation of natural selection by Dawkins and his intellectual confreres. Several of the authors quote Darwin himself in arguing the partial, not complete, explanatory power of the principles of natural selection: "I am convinced that natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification." And the contributors obligingly objurgate the advocates of evolutionary psychology for "colonizing" disciplines they don't necessarily understand, such as neurology, sociology, and even the history of ideas. A vigorous dissent from popular books this magazine has highly recommended in recent years. Gilbert Taylor
    Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

    Review
    "At last! With humor and expertise, this diverse group of critical thinkers -- social and natural scientists and philosophers -- take on sociobiology, reincarnated as evolutionary psychology. In the current haze and maze of genes, it is a relief to read these earnest, funny, and always intelligent essays."
    -- Ruth Hubbard, Harvard University professor emereta of biology and author of Exploding the Gene Myth and The Politics of Women's Biology

    " 'Evolutionary psychology' is the latest episode in the misuse of biology. Hilary and Steven Rose have been leaders in the struggle against this kind of pseudo-science and in Alas Poor Darwin they bring together a superb collection of essays debunking this latest attempt to hijack Darwin. Anyone who has been seduced by the claims of 'evolutionary psychology' should read this book."
    -- Richard Lewontin, Harvard University professor of zoology and biology, and author of The Triple Helix

    "Darwin clearly loved his distinctive theory of natural selection -- the powerful ideas that he often identified in letters as his dear 'child.' But, like any good parent, he understood limits and imposed discipline. He knew that the complex and comprehensive phenomena of evolution could not be fully rendered by any single cause, even one so ubiquitous and powerful as his own brainchild."
    -- From "More Things in Heaven and Earth" by Stephen Jay Gould, in Alas, Poor Darwin.

    From the Inside Flap
    ars, the claims of genetics and evolutionary psychology to explain and indeed legislate on the human condition have been loudly trumpeted in a host of popular books. Genes are said to account for almost every aspect of our lives. Evolution is supposed to explain alleged human universals, from male philandering and female coyness to children's dislike of spinach. There are even claimed to be genes that account for differences between people -- from sexual orientation to drug addiction, aggression, religiosity, and job satisfaction. It appears that Darwin, at least in the hands of his popularizers, has replaced Marx and Freud as the great interpreter of human existence.<br><br>Biologists, social scientists, and philosophers have begun to rebel against this undisciplined approach to their different understandings of the world, demonstrating that the claims of evolutionary psychology rest on shaky empirical evidence, flawed premises, and unexamined political presuppositions. In this groundbreaking b

    From the Back Cover
    "At last! With humor and expertise, this diverse group of critical thinkers -- social and natural scientists and philosophers -- take on sociobiology, reincarnated as evolutionary psychology. In the current haze and maze of genes, it is a relief to read these earnest, funny, and always intelligent essays."
    -- Ruth Hubbard, Harvard University professor emereta of biology and author of Exploding the Gene Myth and The Politics of Women's Biology

    " 'Evolutionary psychology' is the latest episode in the misuse of biology. Hilary and Steven Rose have been leaders in the struggle against this kind of pseudo-science and in Alas Poor Darwin they bring together a superb collection of essays debunking this latest attempt to hijack Darwin. Anyone who has been seduced by the claims of 'evolutionary psychology' should read this book."
    -- Richard Lewontin, Harvard University professor of zoology and biology, and author of The Triple Helix

    "Darwin clearly loved his distinctive theory of natural selection -- the powerful ideas that he often identified in letters as his dear 'child.' But, like any good parent, he understood limits and imposed discipline. He knew that the complex and comprehensive phenomena of evolution could not be fully rendered by any single cause, even one so ubiquitous and powerful as his own brainchild."
    -- From "More Things in Heaven and Earth" by Stephen Jay Gould, in Alas, Poor Darwin.

    About the Author
    Hilary Rose is a sociologist of science. Her most recent book is Love Power and Knowledge: Towards a Feminist Transformation of the Sciences.

    Steven Rose is a neurobiologist. His most recent books are The Making of Memory and Lifelines: Biology, Freedom, Determinism.

    Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
    Perhaps the nadir of evolutionary psychology's specultive fantasies was reached earlier this year with the publication of A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, by Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer. In characteristic EP style, Thornhill and Palmer argue that rape is an adaptive strategy by which otherwise sexually unsuccessful men propagate their genes by mating with fertile women. To make this claim they draw extensively on examples of forced sex among animals, which they insist on categorizing as "rape." Yet as long ago as the 1980s the leading journals in the field of animal behavior rejected this type of sociobiological strategy which anthropomorphizes animal behavior. Specifically, using the term "rape" to refer to forced sex by mallard ducks or scorpion flies (Thornhill's animal of study) was ruled out, as it is not a helpful concept in the nonhuman context because it conflates conspicuous differences between human and other animals' practices of forced sex. Above all forced sex among animals always takes place with fertile females--hence the reproductive potential. As those women's groups, lawyers and feminist criminologists who have confronted rape over the last three decades have documented, victims of rape are often either too young or too old to be fertile. The universalistic explanation offered by Thornhill and Palmer simply fails to address the evidence. Instead they insult women, victims and nonvictims alike, by suggesting, for example, that a tight blouse is in itself an automatic invitation to sex. They insist on distal (in their slightly archaic language, "ultimate") explanations when proximate ones are so much more explanatory (see Steven Rose's chapter). Further, given the difficulties of securing convictions, and the immense guilt which still surrounds rape victims so that tragically they feel they have brought rape on themselves, the measurements of the incidence of rape are extremely frail. Despite their protestations that they want to help women, the version of evolutionary psychology offered by Thornhill and Palmer is offensive both to women and also to the project of building a culture which rejects rape.
     

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