The Debate of Evolutionary Biology in Anthropology

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At the end of the day, the socio-biologists have been trying to teach us, we humans are biological organisms. To which to a lively opposition keeps retorting: no, at the beginning of the day, we are an evolving animal species, but by the end of the day, we’re something else again. We’re human beings. The social science fight this fall around the study of fierce human behavior among the Yanomami Indians of South America is one more instance of that fierce philosophical fight over the nature of human nature. Are those head-hunting Yanomami warriors acting out a universal human urge to dominate or die? And are we doomed, if that’s so, to tribalism, sexism, racism, ethnic cleansing and war without end?

Is it childish, is it unscientific, to suppose we’re creatures not just of our genes, but of our culture, history and language? And that the sins of our species are social-not biological, and not socio-biological either. The ongoing fight around socio-biology is this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Steven Pinker, MIT scientist and author of “The Language Instinct” and “How the Mind Works”