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Showing posts from April, 2013

The Modern Eugenics

We, the inheritors of the post-WWII and post-Civil Rights era, like to believe that eugenics lies with the discredited ideas of pseudosciences such as phrenology and blending inheritance. Julian Huxley may have sounded the last non-fringe “hurrah!” on behalf of the intellectual and scientific supporters of eugenics[i], but the reality is not that simple; although the politically correct mediums of modern academia and popular culture may have purged their halls and airwaves of explicit supporters of state-instituted eugenic practices (though for a recent, well-reasoned exception, see Geoffrey Miller’s response to the Edge question “What should we be worried about?”), these practices lie at the foundation of many of our personal decisions, institutional practices, and government policies. Most biologically-oriented social scientists admit that eugenic self-selection occurs at the individual level—not only in the sperm clinic but also at bars and nightclubs. But even among academics, th…

Union and Separation

Death supplants life and life supplants death. The intricately woven webs of life are reconstructed anew with each generation. Species relying on each other at one epoch produce offspring who take over their ancestors’ positions at a later epoch. Each individual is but a small fragment of this “entangled bank”—to use Darwin’s phrase. To some, this realization is fractionating, disheartening, and lonely. To others, it represents a connection to all of existence. To others still, it represents a middle ground between separation and transcendence. Indeed, if one truly examines the nature of existence, both theoretically and empirically, one is left with an incessant search for the ‘demarcation’, ‘cutoff point’, or ‘dividing line’ between various phenomenological entities. Where do “I”—as an individual—begin and the outside world end? Where does one of my thoughts or emotions commence and another fizzle out? Come to think of it, where and how does thought differ from emotion? Such questio…