contradiction (was: facts in the minds...)

ermadog at ermadog at
Thu Dec 20 21:00:47 MST 2001

On Thu, 20 Dec 2001, Charles Brown wrote:

> CB: Don't you think that human physiology and biological anthropology
> have something to teach us about determination of human nature ?

This conversation might work better if you were to give me an example of
some aspect of human nature which you feel is determined by biology. I
followed your discussion with Greg Schofield last spring regarding the
possiblity that language ability might be hard-wired. I didn't see that
this had implications for this present discussion, though, since it seems
to belong to the category of pre-conditions similar to that of the
opposible thumb. The evidence from anthropology seems to show such a wide
variety of human behaviour that I have trouble imagining what you might
find to be a constant. Additionally, the evidence from bonobos seems to
explode a lot of myths favoured by reactionaries and conservatives.

My standard answer to the human nature question is that the development of
the big brain as a consequence of the opposible thumb shows that human
nature is essentially plastic, flexible, and open-ended. Do you need me to
explain again how I see that natural law argues that democratic rights are

If you want a fuller answer, I'll end up talking about my dogs, comparing
how they did - and did not - act as a group with human group behaviour. I
can use up a lot of bandwidth that way, being rather dotty on the subject.

Joan Cameron

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