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Friday, October 15, 2004

David Sloan Wilson

Keen to bolster the ailing concept of superorganism (ailing thanks to what in the philosophy of social and behavioral science is called Methodological Individualism, but also the more obvious difficulties in perceiving higher levels of structure,) DSW writes the (1997)foreward to intellectual mercenary Howard Bloom's (1995)The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History :

"...The bone of contention is the organismic nature of human society. Thomas Hobbes and many others of his time regarded individuals as the cells and organs of a giant social organism--a Leviathan--'Which is but an artificial man, though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defence it was intended.' Today this idea is regarded as no more than a fanciful metaphor."

Hence DSW's recent Darwin's Cathedral which applies his multilevel selection theory to human social phenomena, specifically religion.

13 Comments:

Blogger coturnix said...

I could not really glean from your post if you like or dislike Wilson's ideas.

November 23, 2004 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger A.D.S. said...

I thought this recent book (Darwin's Cathedral) was interesting, but I've only read a few other articles by Wilson. I have liked most of it, but not ecstatically.

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Blogger ADioS said...

D.S. Wilson is known as a prominent prominent of the "group selection" model, which seems to get a bit of flack by mainstream evolutionists. There do seem to be strong arguments for methodological individualism in biology and social science, but I am always wary of a "conflict" mindset in the world of theories. It is useful to compare them for educational purposes, but otherwise it serves us better to just seek to understand them on their own terms.

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