chapter  10
13 Pages

Sociobiology and the Theory of Natural Selection

WithStephen Jay Gould

Ludwig von Bertalanffy often argued that natural selection must fail as a comprehensive theory because it explains too much--a paradoxical, but perceptive statement. Most work in sociobiology has been done in the mode of adaptive storytelling based upon the optimizing character and pervasive power of natural selection. Much of human behavior is clearly adaptive, but the problem for sociobiology is that humans have so far surpassed all other species in developing an alternative, nongenetic system to support and transmit adaptive behavior-- cultural evolution. The chapter argues that the future will bring mutual illumination between two vigorous, independent disciplines--Darwinian theory and cultural history. Society and science have been so steeped in the ideas of mechanism, utilitarianism, and the economic concept of free competition, that instead of God, Selection was enthroned as ultimate reality. The sociobiological vision of a reduction of the human sciences to biology via Darwinism and natural selection will fail.