Re: Biology and Culture

Robert Snower (rs222@WORLDNET.ATT.NET)
Sat, 20 Jul 1996 05:30:13 GMT

At 01:50 AM 7/20/96 +0000, John McCreery wrote:

>Is not the issue, then,how to integrate biology and culture in meaningful
>ways? Sociobiological explanations tend to be straight-line extrapolations
>in which biology is seen as *determining* behavior; they fail to account
>for cultural variation. Cultural explanations tend to take human biology as
>a constant and thus fail in the opposite direction. The noise generated by
>the great debates over race, language and culture obscures the
>all-too-obvious fact that human bodies are varied and constantly changing
>in response to aging, nutrition, exercise,disease and accident as well as
>deliberate modification.

It is indeed the issue, but I do think, if there is any hope in making
progress with it, the expression of it has to be be kept in a lot more
specific terms. Otherwise, on the one hand we get the good scientist for
whom the law of cause and effect makes it obvious that biology and culture
are just two different kinds of levers and pulleys, and it is not all that
difficult to reconcile them, and on the other hand the free-will type for
whom it is silly, or presumptuous, to attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable.

Best wishes. R. Snower