[Marxism] Genes, behaviour and dialectics (was The transition to capitalism...)

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com
Thu Aug 9 03:43:06 MDT 2007

On 8/8/07, Rohan Gaiswinkler <rohanger at yahoo.com.au> wrote:
> Jscotlive:
>   Genes determine physical characteristics, traits, while our environment AND how we adapt to our environment and experiences determines our behaviour, response, and ability to survive in any particular environment.
>   Me:
>   This model is wrong to the extent that it is undialectical and reductionist to assume that clear bounadries exist for a whole range of phenomona.  You describe a set of gene determined factors neatly on one side and a set of environment determined factors neatly on the other, but dialectics says that there is a complex interrelationship between many of these factors that doesn't fit any either / or model.

Where does Clark's model necessarily preclude complex
interrelationships?  Where does Clark's model say anything about
"neatly on one side" etc?

Look, I am not defending the model. It is most likely not the right
explanation for the rise of capitalism. But what is worrisome is...  I
find the fact that some of us are so willing to denounce the model
*just because it doesn't jive with us our view of the world* to be
deeply troubling.

Also troubling is the tendency I see here to ascribe to me the role of
apologist for the model, when I am doing nothing of the sort.

Marx did not simply dismiss the political economy of his day. He
engaged with it and developed a critique of it.

Likewise. Marxists today will have to engage with the prevailing
social science and natural science of today and then develop a
critique of it. Mere dismissal of it won't achieve anything.

Something that we should also carefully consider is our tendency to
trot out the dialectical horse at every opportunity we are pressed for
arguments. The dialectic is wonderful, but too often it becomes an
excuse for hand-waving and a cover for lack of rigorous arguments. We
need to be careful about that.

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