The Chronicle: 11/17/2006: The Social Responsibility in Teaching Sociobiology
The logic in this discussion is so bad as to be maddening. If the gene is selfish, and there is no ethic other than what “emerges” from our biological selves, how can anybody else tell me what I OUGHT to do? Why should I not kill my neighbor and take all his food?
Neitzche was consistent with his premises; but these sociobiologists and their fellow travelers like to have their materialist world with an occasional dab of what Francis Scheaffer called “semantic mysticism”: you get what a god would provide out of a cloud of language that, when dissected, means nothing except that you didn’t really like the conclusion you were driven to so you blabbed yourself around it.
Take this (bold is mine):
Yet the more we learn about biology, the more sensible becomes the basic thrust of social ethics, precisely because nearly everyone, left to his or her devices, is likely to be selfish, probably more than is good for the rest of us. The philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell pointed out that “by the cultivation of large and generous desires … men can be brought to act more than they do at present in a manner that is consistent with the general happiness of mankind.” Society is therefore left with the responsibility to do a lot of cultivating.
Seen this way, a biologically appropriate wisdom begins to emerge from the various commandments and moral injunctions, nearly all of which can at least be interpreted as trying to get people to behave “better,” that is, to develop and then act upon large and generous desires, to strive to be more amiable, more altruistic, less competitive, and less selfish than they might otherwise be.
If everyone is left to themselves they will be selfish and that IS NOT GOOD FOR THE REST OF US so we need to cultivate the GENERAL HAPPINESS OF MANKIND.
By that “why” I mean, precisely, why according your PREMISES should I not make you unhappy in order to survive? Because the species should be happy? WHY???????????????????
Let’s re-state the logic in that paragraph one more time so we can see in the skeleton just how deformed is the body of thought:
— that which appears to be true is not good. So we need to add a layer to reality to achieve the good. But we see no need to account for whatever that is in us that doesn’t really like what appears to be true, nor do we need to investigate from whence we get the layer we are adding to materialistic truth. We know that everything that is in us comes from this process that we are observing, even though there are tendencies in this process we don’t like, but we don’t see any reason to think that the reason we don’t like those tendencies is that there is a part of us that does not come from the process itself.
Make fun of the medieval Schoolmasters all you want, but at least they tried to subsume their entire intellectual universe in a rational scheme. Compared to them, the materialists are — no other way to say it — weak minds.