Rosser, Engels, biology, Darwin, Lisa

Lisa Rogers eqwq.lrogers at
Mon Nov 27 20:06:04 MST 1995

Barkley, you signed yourself
"Barkley Rosser, a certain snotty professor from over on pen-l"
just in time!  Or else I was going to have to do it for you.

Can I be anti-academic while I'm an academic-in-training myself?  You
bet I can.  Once locally famous as an undergrad for the snotty remark
"Bullshit, Perfesser", uttered to a faculty member of my own
department, to his face, I expect to continue my obstreperous and
iconoclastic attitude for life.  

(Oh, my, some of those other undergrads were _shocked_ at my
behavior.  "But what he said _was_ bullshit, some lizard ecologist
blathering on about the anthropology of sex, around a campfire on a
field trip, I know better, it was BS."  "But, but, he's a PROFESSOR,
you don't say it to his _face_."  Yeah yeah, at least he's not a very
powerful one, so I haven't suffered much for my dissing him.  Funny
thing is, he laughed it off better than the _students_ did.)

"Indeed Marx admired Darwin's evolutionary theory."

Perhaps so, but it's too bad that Engels got it totally wrong in "The
Role of Labor in Evolution of Man" [or title close to that].  I don't
know what's dialectical about it [evolution] either, but I'm still
trying to figure out what is "dialectics" anyway.  Usually the
definitions I've seen are general abstractions bereft of any concrete
determinations.  Or something like that.

"But other than having phase transitions and that species were not
ideals created in the mind of God, what is "dialectical" about it?"

Phase transitions?  In Darwin?  Huh?

"How does one keep "dialectical materialist method" from leading to
Lysenkoism or similar travesties?"

This is the worst, a really bad argument.  I don't know what specific
argument might be the basis for that alleged connection.  But in
general, are you going to hold everyone/thing responsible for
anything which is even claimed to be based upon it?  And where will
that end?  Is Darwin responsible for "social darwinism"?  I don't
think so.

"I have also been probably too harsh in apparently ascribing  any
direct causal connection between _Dialectics of Nature_ and

Well, okay then.  The way I see it, Lysenkoism _had_ to be true or
else there could have been no plausible pretense at all that the
"goals" for agricultural production were achievable, therefore the
sacrifices were justifiable, etc.  When science was "turned loose" of
some of that, it didn't take much to show Lysenkoism was BS.  Most of
the biologists probably knew it the whole time.  It must have been
embarrassing as well as exciting to catch up on the excellent
progress that was made in evolution/ genetics/ molecular biology in
the rest of the world during Lysenko-time.

"Although a problematic work, as shown by the thoughtful discussions
on this net (too bad Lisa R. has flown the coop, if she has),
_Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State_ is an
important and largely original work."

Original?  How do you tell?  I don't claim to know, but Engels says
in the book that it is based on Marx' ethnological notebooks.  These,
in turn do not represent original work, except for Marx' thoughts in
response to Morgan.  The way I picture this, Marx goes to the
library; there are no copy machines, he can't afford to buy books. 
So, he reads and annotates, quoting, responding and commenting, not
in the margins, but in his own notebook, so he can take it with him.
The way I read Engels, on Marx, on Morgan, it looks like Morgan was
reading Marx beforehand, although I don't have a factoid/reference on
that.  But it's no wonder Marx liked Morgan's stuff, it was about
like reading himself!  Not that it's bad or wrong, just part of my

Me?  "Fly the coop"?  Why would I?  You don't believe that stuff
about a few naughty words keeping women off this list, do you? 
Speaking for myself, I'm still here.


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