Re: [xmca] epigenesis

From: Bruce Robinson <bruce who-is-at>
Date: Fri Oct 26 2007 - 04:46:04 PDT

Paul Dillon wrote:
> Jay,
> Any possible answer your question " . . . why is the model of gene-determinism so appealing, almost a religion today, both among molecular biologists and the lay public? Why has it been so easy for the media to spread this gospel?"
I was pleasantly surprised to hear human genome mapper (and would be
privatiser) Craig Venter dissociate himself from crude genetic
determinism in an interview he gave to the BBC Today programme. He came
out against the one to one 'a gene for...' idea, talked about the social
environment of development interacting with genetic tendencies and being
more important in a whole range of behaviour, as well as, in a comment
on the Watson controversy, describing race as a social construct with no
scientific basis. So there clearly are exceptions. But I do accept that
genetic determinism is pervasive and think Jay is right to point to the
resulting fatalism about social inequality as a cause, perhaps less as
an excuse for people to do nothing and more as a justification of why
things are the way they are in the first place. This is not new - Marx
pointed to Darwin's drawing on Malthus and his picture of nature
reflecting the model of competitive capitalism.

Bruce R
> would seem to require an adequate theory of why any "knowledge system/ideology" is dominant in a given society at a given time. From the perspective of the classic Marxist model, i.e., "dominance of the ideas of the dominant economic forces" , the dominance of the genetic metaphor in contemporary capitalist societies seems to provide a text book case. The primary client for the products of the bio-technology and pharmaceutical industries in which most geneticists is the health care industry (15% of US GDP) , then there's the GMO dominance in capitalist agriculture. Along with cybenetics , genetic technologies , suffuse the fabric of modern economic activity.
> But that's only a formal cause and although probably a necessary condition for the ideological dominance of some branch of knowledge, still insufficient to answer your question. I think one of the effective causes at the psychological level , might have to do with the utopian futures genetics provides the "cult of eternal youth" , likewsie a root metaphor of popular consumer culture. The promised developments of genetic technologies certainly have that Utopian dimension, better futures quality that makes of good ideology.
> Paul
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Received on Fri Oct 26 04:52 PDT 2007

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