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1 9th August 05:33
whitesickle
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Posts: 1
Default Question and commentary about E.O. Wilson


In his book "Consilience" biologist E.O. Wilson argued for the
subsumation of the humanities and social sciences into the natural
sciences. I have not read "Consilience" but one of the criticisms of it
is Wilson has a hard time defining what he means by consilience. I'm
interested if anybody knows of any specifics regarding Wilson's hopes
of the humanities and social sciences (a rather big category) being
subsumed into the natural sciences. For example, does Wilson suggest
how anthropology, linguistics, archeology, literature, psychology,
sociology, history, ethics, philosophy, etc. should be subsumed into
the natural sciences or is he making just general statements. Is Wilson
an eliminativist, seeking to remove some social sciences and humanities
as if they never mattered? Are there any examples of this occurring at
faculty departments of certain universities?

I think E.O. Wilson will go down in history primarily as an ant man.
His thoroughly reductionist campains of sociobiology (now evolutionary
psychology) and having the humanities and social sciences subsumed into
natural sciences, may become a reality whose consequences would be IMO
an even more bleak and desolate landscape of societal mind. The social
sciences and humanities are already under siege so Wilson's input was
not surprising.

How may this reality of an even more bleak and desolate landscape of
"societal mind" come about? Science is interested in facts. Whether
those facts are pleasant or unplesant doesn't matter. Arguably, much of
what sociobiology/evolutionary psychology has to say about human nature
is very unpleasant, at least for *some* of us. Let's *assume* much of
what sociobiology/evolutionary psychology says has a scientific basis
in fact. Aggression, genocide, ****, xenophobia, etc. have a biological
basis.

There are two ways you can run with this. One is to accept many of the
findings of sociobiology/evolutionary psychology and that aggression,
genocide, ****, xenophobia, etc. have a biological basis and to accept
this as part of our nature and therefore see nothing
inherently wrong with it. The second way is to accept many of the
findings of sociobiology/evolutionary psychology and that aggression,
genocide, ****, xenophobia, etc. have a biological basis and to
*acknowledge* this as part of our nature but don't see our biology as
being currently evolutionarily adaptive and hope to see it changed.

Which do you think is going to be the most popular position? That's
right, the first. An increased academic understanding of our instincts
will not lead to any changes in our instincts. Some have thought such a
better understanding of instincts would help manage those instincts.
That IMO is false. If anything, often an increased understanding of our
instincts leads us to a dead end. Evolutionary psychology studies past
evolution to see how and why we behave the way we do today. One branch
of it posits "Mismatch Theory" whose
proponents believe man's biological nature is incompatible with today's
civilization. I have not read of any real solutions to this.

Hardly ever have I read of a sociobiologist or evolutionary
psychologist, let alone any scientist, state we are biologically not
currently adaptive to our environment *and* that mere findings of
evolutionary psychology aren't sufficient and the only possible future
way to alter our evolution is to go to the biological roots.

What makes E.O. Wilson's position the humanities and social sciences
should be subsumed by the natural sciences absurd is that this is not a
so-called synthesis but an attempt at the take over of the humanities
and social sciences by the natural sciences. A common opinion among
some nowadays is the humanities and social sciences should be gotten
rid of because they serve no useful purpose. This was from a young man
who had become an engineer. It certainly appears E.O. Wilson is
advocating a form of historical amnesia. Without learning about the
history of ideas we do at least in that respect come
close to "Brave New World".

In addition, what ever happenned to the exception-ridden laws of
biology and its autonomy. If there is a place each for the natural
sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology (they are not all
lumped together into one scientific discipline) then how are the
natural sciences going to subsume the humanities and social sciences?
In addition, there is a gigantic wealth of information and knowledge
the natural sciences have not yet acquired. It is extremely
premature to be arguing the humanities and social sciences are subsumed
by the natural
sciences. It is irresponsible.

How are the natural sciences going to subsume history? 101:
Thermodynamics of the Third Reich. 102: Evolutionary patterns and
strategies and technology in the New World. 103: Geometry and
arithemetic of early artifacts. You get the drift. We've already raised
dum kids but this will give whole new meaning to it.

Michael Ragland
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