Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

Adapting Minds

A very interesting interview with philosopher David Buller on evolutionary psychology. Like me he believes that inheritance and selection underpin many characteristics of the human mind, but that modern Evolutionary Psychology is too rigid and insufficiently self-sceptical in working out what those characteristics are. In short, too influenced by what the dominant groups in society want to be the case, not sufficiently open to what is actually the case. A clue to the unscientific nature of this approach is that human behaviour which doesn't accord with the dominant paradigm is dismissed as 'noise', instead of as evidence.

"A truly evolutionary view of our species recognizes that variation is not noise in the system, but is the system itself. And so in an important sense there's no such thing as the human mind, which an evolutionary perspective on will illuminate us about, but rather there are a variety of different kinds of minds out there, all of which have evolved"

An example is the concept of jealousy, which might be of interest to those who live non-monogamous lifestyles. Buller argues that instead of a rigid view (men are sexually jealous, women emotionally jealous) we have a general principle - people want to protect relationships they value, and make judgements about threats to that relationship - and this protection works itself out in different ways, in different socieities, and in different arrangements.

I think Buller sounds like a nice guy:

"I have no doubt that some readers are going to say that I've brought nothing to these issues, because philosophers should stick to what they know--namely, nothing. And there's an extent to which I agree with them... I'm not telling the world that everything in my book is right, so everyone should stop listening to evolutionary psychologists. I propose something different: Inform yourselves. Please. Go out and read the stuff by evolutionary psychologists and read my book, then make up your own minds."
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