reply to Kerry on evolution
MACDONAK at Meena.CC.URegina.CA
Wed Jul 19 17:19:48 MDT 1995
:perhaps when you read my post about two weeks ago, you had missed the
:previous post to which I was replying. Your points were already
:well-taken by me, and I'd like to hear some more. I'm especially
.... ah, probably (sheepish smirk implied :) ). We were probably in the middle
of our election at the time and I'm still trying to get back up to speed.
I find the medium somewhat disconcerting and disingenious for dialoque
(though the medium appears to falcilitate dialogue, I'm coming to the
conclusion that it rarely actually accomplishes that feat, it is more akin to a
disjointed "note-passing" phenomena as one may have experienced in grammar
An additional aside, is there anything akin to an "offline-reader",
such as what they have for BBSs for these "lists"? The reason that I ask is
that I find it more appropriate for me to be able to reflect and muse/research
elements of a post when I respond to it. In that way I'm less likely to make
errors of assumptions (see apology below) and I find the organizing and
maintenance of those types of posts (such as those in QWK format) more
ammenable in fostering dialoqe/debate.
:interested in implications of such science for marxism, and
:vice-versa. A few comments below.
Science. Having taken a class or two on the Philosophy of Science and
issues of epistomology I need to preface my initial response to "science".
When I think of "science" I see it as captial "S", a term which has a
number of implicit meanings and assumptions embedded within it. The first is
where the science of physics is presented as emblamatic of how all science
should be done, regardless that the objects of study can and are radically
different. This impact has been seen more overtly between, say physics and
sociology, though one can see the increasing difficulties as one moves along
the continuum between the two.
Secondly, the most grevious problem with science, per se, is the
unquestioning of the assumptions that underpin it when it is being practiced.
It attempts to argue that what it discovers is "Truth" with a capital "T", that
which is unassailable for all time. Yet we know that that is just not the
case. Regardless of some the problems in Kuhn's book, he does point out the
impact of conceptulization has on the practice (the doing) of science. One
needs to keep in mind, in regard with physics, is it's object of study -
inanimate matter or it's forms (E=mc2 thing). The problems that exist in
physics, which is the archetype of how science should be done, become greater
as one's object of study differentiates from physics. In other words, the
assumptions which underpin the "right way to do science" become increasingly
problematic as one's object of study varies.
For Marxism, the object of study is humanity, which is at the polar
opposite from physic's. Thus the science of physics is inappropriate for the
science of humanity. This is not to say that it needs to be completely
eliminated, rather that the science that develops for humanity needs to
acknowledge not only the plurality of its object of study, but that the
researcher (the one who wishes to understand if you will) is not only embedded
within that which she/he wishes to study but IS the object as well.
For me, the greatest contribution that Marx provided was not Marxism
as it is more or less currently constituted, but rather, his method. The
linking of theory and observation, in a manner which at all times was critical
of both elements. Critical in this context refers to the element of reflection
and exposing the contridictions of the stated ideals of a society with the
actual and formulating a more coherent explanation. Thus patterns can be
discerned though prediction (the goal of science/physics) is not possible.
In short, emperical data informs theory and theory informs the
observation of empirical data. Thus Marxism becomes a system/method which is
dynamic, though constituted within the promise of the Enlightenment (briefly,
that equality can be achieved, through the emancipation of the individual).
Thus proofs as such are an ongoing project rather than ossified one. The goal
of Marxism, IMO, should be emancipation/equality rather that whether or not
particular concepts of Marx are still valid or not (the latter position is
usually held by those who believe that proving that one of Marx's concepts is
no longer valid invalidates Marxism. Held by those both pro and con Marxism).
>>> KERRY <MACDONAK at meena.cc.uregina.ca> 7/7/95, 05:43pm >>>
:One needs also to separate and not confuse breeding, the controlled
:exageration of a particular characteristic (which is genetically
:linked) within a species and evolution, which is the change within a
:species at the genetic level (which may and usually is reflected at
:the observable level).
:Lisa adds: The similarity between the two is that both are genetic
:changes that result from differential reproduction of individuals
:with different genes. The difference is that one is done by humans
:to domestic species. (That's also how species got domestic.)
Are they genetic changes? Or rather, in the case of breeding, a
particular genetic characteristic is cultivated over generations. This
doesn't necessarily equate with evolution which, as I understand the term,
refers to the replacement of a species by a genetically different though a
"descendent" of that species. In this case I am thinking of the "horse".
Evolutionary speaking it was a small three toed creature ... today it is a big
one-toed creature (though it still contains the "genetic remnants" of having
It may be that we are splitting hairs. And talking past each other.
Also the breeding of species probably happened after domestication, as
this type of activity is more akin to a sedentary-agrarian society.
:Lisa adds: My point was not intended to be about eugenics at all.
:Rather, it is just that if genetically different populations are in a
:killing war with each other, and one is substantially wiped out,
:there could be the unintended effect of genetic change in the
:population, or region. I was addressing some question about
It is unlikely that populations that are adjacent are radically or even
substantially different enough that certain genetic characteristics would be
"wiped out". The inter-marrying of people regardless of what certain elements
in any society may otherwise wish has been occuring since humans walked the
Granted, there are populations which are different from each other, in
an outward physical manner (which is what most peoples have focused upon).
Though trying to use genetics, maintaining the diversity of the gene pool, as
an argument against war can be problematic. For there is an implicit economic
argument, an oppurtunity-cost one, IMO, that goes along the lines that these
characteristics may be important to us as a species and therefore we should
not eraticate them. This argument locates value at an economic level rather
than arguing for the inherent equality of all people (tolerance). It is also
an argument which would not work in areas of the world where differences are
cultural rather than racial (per se); ie. Bosnia, Rhodisia, the Indian
:Kerry: You appear to confuse the process of procreation and
:Lisa now: No I don't, not at all, quite the opposite. Again, I was
:answering a question about culture being "inherited", but it is not a
:part of anthropology that I am into. And I don't see how I can be
:read as "confusing" the process of making babies and the process of
:learning. Perhaps you'd like to say more, to clarify what you mean?
Oops ... sorry. I thought you were saying the opposite. I though you
were arguing that social/cultural attitudes were or could be passed along and I
was being a tad bit sarcastic (a fault of mine, or so I've been told :)).
As to culture being inherited - NOT!
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