Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Helena Cronin on the Biology/Socialisation Dichotomy
Helena Cronin, the English philosopher, makes the vital and important point that ‘socialisation’ or ‘learning’ and biology, or against biology, is simply a false dichotomy. Socialisation is simply the result of biology or genes – at least to a large extent:
We can be socialised or learn because of our biology or our genes. We couldn’t be socialised if we had the wrong biology or genes. The biology is necessary. In fact, the biology, or genes, makes us social and makes us learn. In Cronin’s terms, we need these ‘evolved propensities’ in order to be social and in order to learn. Put simply, as Cronin does, ‘socialisation, or any other learning, is not an alternative to biology’. In fact it is even starker than that. Cronin says that ‘no individual, of any species, can learn anything without underlying adaptations for learning’. We require our ‘innate capacities’. After all we all know about Chomsky’s ‘language faculty’ and other givens or innate aspects of the mind and brain. Socialisation and learning are the same.
All this, then, is a result of our ‘priming’ by ‘natural selection’. In a sense it is our biology we need to thank for our social nature and our capacity to learn, not, well, society itself (or not society alone). After all at one point society, or socialisation, could not have existed. Therefore the requisite biology for socialisation and learning must have come first.
The result of all this is that ‘different species are differently primed’. Not only that: ‘so too are males and females’ of our species! That is, the biology and genetics of socialisation and learning must be different for males and females.
No wonder the politicos and left-wing feminists don’t like Cronin’s ‘sociobiological’ or ‘reductionist’ arguments – their ideologies will not allow them to like them. It will cost them, politically and perhaps emotionally, to accept them. The truth, for them, is simply too complex and not black and white enough to further their political ends or causes. That’s why Cronin, E.O. Wilson, Dawkins and others suffer the wrath of these Trotskyist/Leftist politicos who dabble in the 'critique' of science.