by JOHN CONSTABLE, Department of International Culture, University
of Kyoto, Japan
After a short stay at Christ's we went on a journey and ended up in
Down House. We weren't there, even proportionately, as long as Darwin,
and the path of our movement was in some ways the reverse of his,
being from high seriousness to genial familiarity, but the links were
strong enough to ensure that most attendants at this year's meeting were
aware, as promised by this year's organizer, Robin Allott, of Darwin's
intellectual presence, even if only through memorabilia. But this presence,
or heritage, to take up the conference's title, is far from obvious, and it is
instructive to imagine what an outsider, a non-biologist, perhaps, with
only a passing awareness of Darwin and darwinism, might expect of
such a meeting. Would they not anticipate each paper to contain lengthy
quotations from the great man's work, together with continual reference,
explication, and utilization? And, if our imaginary spectator knew any
thing of Freudians, they might in addition look forward to seeing a
reluctance to do more than annotate, or a feverish sense of daring as
firmly established principles were dislodged, even if only by a slight
degree. In fact, none of these expectations would be fulfilled, for darwinians are surprisingly
nonchalant about their predecessor, and, though
interested in the individual at the origin of their own work, are clearly
not intimidated by him. There is with Darwin no "Chinese wall" effect of
the kind famously noted in English literature after Milton, a feeling that
no one could go beyond that author in that genre, epic blank verse in
Milton's case. A glance over the abstracts will give some indication of
what was very obvious at this conference, that members of the ESS are
not mere custodians of a heritage consisting of antiques, but have come
into an inheritance consisting of productive fields in which they work as
owners and not as slaves.
This sense of ease was deepened by the seclusion of our location. Christ's has a relatively small street frontage, compared say with the dominating facade of King's, but it's grounds are extensive, and walking from the front gate through to the theater, where all the papers were delivered, took the visitor over almost the entire extent of the college, and gave the impression of extreme remoteness from the of public summer life in Cambridge, which was boiling over during our stay. It was in a sense an impression only, since the seedily fashionable King's Street, with its pubs and the accompanying human, all too human, behavior, lay just over the perimeter wall, as if to remind us that though academic seclusion does not always bring those enjoying its retreats closer to the facts which their study tries to grasp, it remains a desirable ideal.
The intense, windowless, atmosphere of the theater itself, was well offset by a paved area just outside, shaded by trees, and a lawn, where conferencees sat in the coffee intervals to take advantage of an uncharacteristically warm summer, before returning again, without very much reluctance and only a little chivvying, to the business at hand. Informal discussion was, as far I could tell, measured in tone and volume, and contrasted well with the urgent delivery of the speakers and the sharp engagement of the questioners when in full session, the latter perhaps being explained by the fact that the study of human activity seems to have come to dominate proceedings, and indeed even, somewhat surprisingly, formed the major component in William Hamilton's opening address. Only a handful out of nearly forty papers were not directly concerned with our own species, and even those clearly derived part of their claim to attention from a potential importance for the study of human behavior. This made for a focused and controversial set of papers, ranging from the more cautious Robert Hinde, speaking partly on Teddy Bear's faces and partly on war, to J.P. Rushton, who, for all his attempts at circumspection and careful treading around the subject of racial difference, could not fail to stir up an audience already far from asleep. Between these two positions the distribution of other speakers gave evidence of a healthy degree of internal dissent and self-monitoring criticism. Indeed, this range of darwinian opinion, and better than mere opinion, was very striking, particularly when set alongside the rather different swathe of positions observable in this year's conference of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference, which I also at tended. Whereas the HBES was exploding with confidence, almost repulsively so, the ESS at Cambridge appeared to be somewhat more embattled, more dignified and defensive, perhaps unnecessarily in the present climate, or, then again, perhaps because of it. It was very noticeable, for instance, that though very many of our speakers were concerned with psychology, and had clearly heard of Santa Barbara, the "Center for Evolutionary Psychology" seemed very far away.
Aside from the anxieties of the intellectual program, proceedings included a reception, on the evening of the first day, Thursday, a dinner on Friday, held in Christ's intimate and charming hall, with Darwin's portrait observing us quietly from the shadows in one corner behind high table, and our Down house visit. Dr. Solene Morris, currently the curator, was our guest at dinner on Friday, and kindly welcomed us to Down House. Some of us exercised on the sandwalk, and some sat more quietly to take advantage of that aid to reflection which the home of a great thinker can provide. Lunch was then served for us in an upstairs room overlooking the garden, and after a team photo in front of the drawing room the conference came to a peaceful conclusion.
It is perhaps a sign of naivety to wonder whether the title of a conference has been addressed, and any conclusions reached. Perhaps the most salient point was a reinforcement of the obvious point that the Darwinian heritage proves to be involved with the world's other intellectual legacies, or to put it in more physicalistic language, that its cultural particles now make their way in company with those of other traditions. Such implicated relationships are necessarily hazardous, but also result in a deepen ing of understanding, and in fun. Aping Eve one of our number nervously picked a mulberry from an ancient tree in Darwin's garden, ask ing "Do you think it's sacrilege? ... or sacramental?", and ate it.
by NANCY E. AIKEN, P.O. Box 27, GUYSVILLE, OH 45735, U.S.A.
Ellen Dissanayake has written several articles on the subject of art as
adaptive behavior - a description of art which does not fit into the
mainstream of aesthetics. Nevertheless, she has published in the Journal of
Aesthetics and Art Criticism, the top-ranked American journal of the old
guard, i.e., those who would find her ideas not only revolutionary but
blasphemous. Her book, What is Art For? was published by a university
press. Now, this new book comes from the trade book arena. She has
published in the right places; it is time for her ideas to spark a revolution
Dissanayake's revolutionary idea is that art is not an epiphenomenon, as suggested by mainstream, old guard aestheticians, but a necessary part of human existence. In fact, without art, she argues, human beings may not have survived the selection process. She defines art in broad terms. Art is not confined to galleries and museums and concert halls. It is self- decoration; it is ritual; it is movement and rhythm. Art is not a product but behavior (pp. 34-38). At the root of art, she asserts, is the need of human beings to control their lives and environment. Art accomplishes this task by making ordinary things "special," e.g. providing food in a grave for nourishment in the afterlife, dancing to evoke rain, decorating bowls which hold grain, parading, making parties. Making special works because it appeals to our emotions; it makes us feel good [One way nature insures survival is by making things that aid survival feel good (p. 31)], and it provides common emotions which bind us together into cohesive groups. She argues that group solidarity, which art provided, aided survival by providing security against invaders and by transmitting vital information (See Pfeiffer, 1982 and Dissanayake, 1988 for a full explanation of the latter). Also, by making special such essential activities as hunting, the hunters felt as though they would be successful (p. 92) and, as is well known, a positive outlook and belief in one's ability to carry out a task will often lead to success. Finally, she argues that the arts contributed to the reproductive success of those who engaged in them (p. 129). Besides the benefits derived from the success of the group, individual adornment signaled beauty and status which could lead to reproductive success. (Note the use of past tense. Dissanayake feels that we in Western civilization essentially have lost these behaviors.)
Dissanayake writes that poetry "persuades" (p. 116) and music "unifies an audience in a common emotion" and that sharing strong emotions together is a "potent means of bonding" (p. 119). How can music evoke a common emotion in an audience? (This is an old question in Western aesthetics and it has never been satisfactorily answered.) She suggests that there are "naturally aesthetic predispositions" which are used to make things special. These are "cognitive universals" such as curves and pure colors, which when deviated from produce "emotional tension," and "primitives" such as analogy and metaphor expressed as binaries (good/evil, up/down, light/dark), which have emotional attachments resulting from experiences in infancy common to our species (pp. 156-182). She offers numerous such examples of cognitive traits common to our species which carry emotional baggage and which are used to make ordinary things special.
Homo Aestheticus is revolutionary, and it is not only on the right track but steaming full speed ahead. However, I feel some items need to be addressed. For example, it will be argued that Dissanayake is espousing a theory based on art as pleasure. Questions will be raised that are the same questions that have created problems for other theories of art as pleasure. How is tragedy pleasurable? How are Francis Bacon's paintings pleasurable? How can things that ordinarily frighten us be a source of pleasure? Theories of art as pleasure have always been found wanting because they do not cover all cases. I have investigated this problem and concluded that other emotions are evoked by art but because of the "safe" context of art are less sad, less disgusting, less frightening but are exciting and, thus, pleasurable. The emotion, possibly, most difficult to argue and, therefore, once successfully argued, the most convincing is fear. Demonstrating how something frightening can be turned into an object of aesthetic appreciation (something pleasurable), could show how art is used to manipulate the emotions and has adaptive value because of this. Examples, other than those mentioned by Dissanayake of "cognitive universals" which evoke emotion in art, include such shapes as eye spots and zigzags and sounds such as animal alarm calls which evoke fear in a natural setting. When these same shapes and sounds are used in art, fear is also evoked, but, because of art's "safe" context, the fear turns to excitement and, even, pleasure. Thus, my research complements that of Dissanayake and provides answers to those important questions consistently asked of theories describing art as pleasure.
Art may be even more than what Dissanayake suggests. Her art is cozy. However, since, as she points out, we tend to think in terms of binaries, e.g. good/evil, why should art not have an evil side? In my view art has been used to mollify besides educate, and to subjugate besides unify. We are social animals who have dominance hierarchies as a part of our societies. Dissanayake sees us as cooperative, social animals who need attachments. Cooperation also comes from accepting one's place in the hierarchy. Dominant individuals must be alert to keep their positions, and manipulation of subordinates is a primary method of remaining on top. Art, using Dissanayake's broad definition, is a means of influence so subtle and so powerful that people never realize they have been manipulated. By evoking common emotions, establishing bonds, and unifying individuals into groups with a common purpose, kings have reigned, religions have found converts, wars have been waged, rights have been won, and dictators have risen and fallen.
Dissanayake suggests that modern and postmodern art are divorced from what art was - a behavior, a propensity to make special, a means of unifying for a common purpose. Art, she argues, is now thought of as something bought and sold, a product of the artworld, a commodity. That is certainly true for "fine art" - art of the artworld. However, the human population still makes special, still reacts to the same "naturally aesthetic predispositions," and can still be manipulated by the use of those predispositions (including that part of the population who are in the artworld). Hitler was described as a house painter, but he was a great artist. He knew (probably without realizing how) to use oratory, monumentality, and ceremony to bond people into a unified whole and extract from them unquestioning support. Unfortunately, his was truly an evil art. Another example of art at work in contemporary Western culture is the antiwar movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. Popular music, using incessant rhythms, screaming guitars, and antiwar messages at events bringing together and unifying groups of tens of thousands of people, played a major role. Woodstock (I) offers an excellent example of the power of art to bond people together into a united, cooperative force.
Dissanayake attempts to revive Theodor Lipps' old empathy theory to explain how "cognitive universals" or "primitives" have emotional attachments. Empathy theory is interesting for its attempt to deal with the emotional impact of art, but the error lies in its direction. Empathy theory suggests that we project ourselves into the art in order for the emotional affect to take place. This is a cumbersome notion, and the direction is wrong. Conversely, it is the emotional attachments carried by the "aesthetic predispositions" which direct the emotional effect of the work of art. For example, fear is the emotion attached to eye spots and zigzags. Maternal warmth and protection are probably attached to curves and soft colors and textures and lullabies. Light is pleasant; dark is scary. These items with which artists create works of art already have their own emotional attachments. There is no need for us to project ourselves into the work of art; all we need to do is attend to it. Empathy theory is not needed to explain emotional response to art. What is needed is an under standing of how emotional response is evoked in general. Some stimuli universally evoke certain emotions. Movement grabs attention. Sudden movement and sounds startle. Monumentality awes. Lullabies sooth. Marches excite. These behaviors are adaptive behaviors which insure survival in nature. Sudden movement can mean danger. Blood pressure rises, the heart beats faster, palms sweat, and the hair stands on the back of the neck. These are some of the physiological features of fear. The body is prepared for fight or flight. Neither might occur, but the emotion is felt. The emotion might not rise to consciousness to be named, but it is felt. This is how art evokes and manipulates emotions - without our realizing it.
Dissanayake's last chapter is must reading for an understanding of the changes in art and life since the eighteenth century. Her sections on modernism and postmodernism are excellent overviews. She notes that Darwinism offers hope whereas postmodernism does not. This, it seems to me, would be enough reason to give her ideas a look. However, her "species-centric" view offers much more. Whereas postmodernists write that we are products of our language, Dissanayake rightly points out that this is impossible. Language is an adaptation of an evolving creature and cannot exist sans creature. Moreover, we do not arrive in this world as "blank slates" as modernists have suggested. We are genetically endowed with predispositions and physical characteristics common to our species. Research shows that we have biological constraints in the way we think. For example, when we count, we assign one number to one item. All people do this. Keil (1981) offers other examples of such predispositions. Postmodernists argue that reality has no independent existence apart from our theories about it, but a species-centered view turns that idea around. Our theories (arising from our perceptions) are determined by the real world. We adapt to the real world; it did not adapt to us. We are determined by the real world, and we can only perceive that world through human eyes.
Homo Aestheticus is a brilliant culmination of several years' work. It pulls together into a cohesive whole ideas put forth by Dissanayake in previous publications. It is beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and cogently argued. It should be taken seriously. However, as Dissanayake writes, the task of being taken seriously by mainstream aesthetics is like that set before Copernicus. Her ideas repudiate not only mainstream aesthetics but the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization! I, for one, will stand with her in this revolution of ideas. If those of us who find merit in her arguments will follow her lead and publish similar cogent arguments, her ideas may eventually overturn old dogmas to reveal fresh insights into what we, ourselves, have been, are, and will be.
Dissanayake, E. (1988). What is art for? Seattle & London: University of
Keil, F.C. (1981). "Constraints on knowledge and cognitive development." Psychological Review, 88, 197-227.
Pfeiffer, J.E. (1982). The creative explosion: An inquiry into the origins of art and religion. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
by HEINER FLOHR, Politikwissenschaft I, Heinrich Heine Universität,
Universitätsstr. 1, 40225 Düsseldorf 1, Germany.
All the essays in this volume have previously been published in Ethnology; they date
from 1969 to 1989. All of them were selected on the basis
of the judgement of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. The
introduction gives an overview and discusses "How the Study of Power
is indeed the Concern of Political Anthropology". It intends to show the
historical intellectual traditions in political anthropology, their constancy
as well as their changes. The book is expressly not directed only at
anthropologists. The editors believe that "presently a new view of
political behavior is necessary". In their opinion "the professional researcher has been interested for far too long in problems and questions
that are of concern only to a limited number of other like-minded scholars."
After the detailed introduction, 16 contributions on over 214 pages treat questions of political anthropology. While covering an extraordinarily broad range geographically, the articles are limited as regards content by the fact that the authors more or less share a common understanding of power as the central phenomenon of politics. The introduction states programmatically:
"The principal subject of political anthropology should be to examine the domains and hierarchies of power within any society whether the society conforms to one of the myriad social classifications of band, tribe or state. Only then can the investigator analyze the intersocietal aspects of power relations and finally, and most importantly, account for the dynamics of change that is synonymous with the concept of power itself. In other words, we must confront the political with the key question of anthropological science; namely, what are the universal properties and processes of societal power and what counts for their variations?"
All of the articles reveal interesting insights into the modalities of
gaining and maintaining power in the regions or populations in question.
Political scientists, anthropologists, social psychologists, and sociologists
who read this volume will have ample opportunity to check their as
sumptions about the power struggle, and in my opinion this is one of the
assets of this book. Many examples for highly instructive descriptions
and analyses could be singled out, but mentioning that this book is a
virtual cornucopia of engrossing descriptions and stimulating explanations will have to
The importance of families and family systems is stressed in many of the contributions. It is especially interesting that efforts to maintain, as far as possible, a family-oriented stance are observable even in more complex political systems. Without a doubt this is particularly difficult in modern mass society. However, nepotism still plays an important role, not only in a local context but also on higher levels. In democracies nepotism is curbed only by the watchfulness of a discerning public. Rivalry among (extended) families, still expressing itself in some countries in the extremities of blood revenge, hardly ever plays a part in modern urban society. Families seldom compete with each other; therefore, it is no longer advantageous to weaken other families. But it is still profitable to strength en one's own family, the reward being, of course, culturally defined advantages, not all of which are still to be measured by the biological "yardstick" of gene maximization.
This commendable volume shows once again that political anthropology is a fascinating subject and certainly not only of interest to political anthropologists. Social scientists and others ought to take notice of the research done in this field; on the one hand in order to keep an open mind regarding the diversity of social reality, and on the other hand in order to test their own assumptions in the light of the findings of political anthropology, empirical results as well as theoretical reflections. By the same token political anthropologists would be well advised to take note of the results of interdisciplinary research, not least of those findings based on a biosocial perspective. For political anthropology they hold the promise of shedding some light on layers hitherto unexplored.
by GEBHARD GEIGER, Institut für Philosophie, Technische
München, Lothstrasse 17, D-80290 München, Germany.
There are few comprehensive textbooks on sociobiology available in the
German language, almost all of them translations from the English. In
view of this situation, Eckart Voland's Grundriß der Soziobiologie (An
Outline of Sociobiology) is a novelty. In the preface and introductory
chapter, Voland theoretically and methodologically demarcates his
approach from conventional Lorenzian ethology, the influence of which
he feels to be still strong among German behavioural ecologists. In
particular, the author gives a rigorous strategy-of-the-gene account of
animal social behaviour. Following previous textbook representations by
J. R. Krebs, N. B. Davies and R. Trivers, he characterises sociobiology as
the study of the adaptive variation of social strategies rather than species-
specific behaviours. As far as human sociobiology is concerned, he insists
on the biological functions, such as survival and optimal reproduction, of
human sociocultural strategies. On the basis of empirical evidence he also
argues that culture in the sense of the transmission of individually
acquired traits through learning, is not an exclusively human attribute.
The explication of the fundamental concepts of sociobiology and the analyses of the empirical and statistical materials are organised in four chapters, respectively dealing with concepts and models of sociobiology, cooperation and competition in social groups, sex and mating strategies, and patterns of parental investment. Various subsections are concerned with more detailed conceptual distinctions and analyses such as kin altruism and reciprocal altruism, polygynous and polyandrous reproductive systems, and parent-offspring conflict.
These topics indeed constitute standard problems of sociobiological research. But in Voland's representation social evolution appears to be a particularly well documented fact, however diverse and subtle the ways may be in which adaptations vary within and between animal species. In fact, the book puts together a large amount of empirical data, including materials and references as recent as 1993, with numerous photographs, tables, statistics, and graphical representations. A case in point is Vo land's thorough account of the fitness advantages and costs associated with group life, which he shows to depend sensitively on the ecological, genetic, demographic and physiological constraints on reproduction faced by the individual organism (section 2.1).
However, it is not the mere compilation of evidence in support of sociobiological orthodoxy that makes the book instructive and theoretically profitable. In my view, the author's original scientific contribution rather derives from his rigorous exploitation of the observational evidence for the purpose of comparative analysis, thus confirming and extending the notion that much of the existing variation in animal and human social structure is indeed adaptive in terms of evolutionary the ory. Thus the patterns of differential parental investment, to which he has devoted much of his own anthropological research, constitute a major subject of Voland's comparative theoretical concern (chapter 4). Other applications deal with alternative tactics of mate competition (subsection 3.1.2) or sex differences in social roles (e.g. subsection 3.1.1).
A few more critical remarks would not seem unfair. The central con cepts of ritualization and animal communication receive no separate treatment; they are not even mentioned in the Index. Since sociobiological reasoning depends so critically on genetic hypotheses, some notice of the relationships between sociobiology, as outlined in the book, and behavioural and population genetics might have been appropriate. For instance, reference to the fact that critical phenomena such as K- and r-selection (section 4.1) admit explicit population genetic models could add further theoretical force to sociobiological explanations. Eventually Voland raises, and certainly answers to some considerable extent, the question of what is adaptive in human behaviour (section 1.2). But he says nothing about the possible relationships (e.g. functional changes) between adaptive and nonadaptive human sociocultural patterns. These relationships indeed require an interdisciplinary kind of research, but who else could do that job if not the evolutionary anthropologists?
by JOSEPH LOPREATO, Department of Sociology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, U.S.A.
This book will be useful to any evolutionist interested in learning how
social scientists in general and political scientists in particular have
debated such issues as Watergate, the proposed Equal Rights Amend
ment (ERA), the Iran Contra affair, the feminist movement and, among
other mostly American phenomena, elite networks. The book should also
be useful to social scientists who may wish to review such subjects and
in the process catch a glimpse of a biological perspective. I say a "glimp
se" in all fairness because, title notwithstanding, this volume has very
little to do with genes and brains.
The author's broad target consists of the "environmentalist, mechanistic, and typological" premises of social science, against which he proposes "a paradigm that is interactional, mentalist, and populational." The idea behind the first criterion is rendered by the evolutionist's position, that phenotype is the resultant of the interaction of genotype and environment. While the environment remains ever a potent factor, the author notes, "it never negates our biological natures, even if it may inhibit their realization." The student of evolution and behavior will, however, be astonished to read that the author's interactional approach is "less counterfactual than either an environmental or hereditarian one" (p. 1), and will avoid the "snare of a genetic determinism" (p. 4).
A "mentalist, in contrast to a mechanistic, outlook grants a causal role to the purposive or teleonomic activity of the individual; our conscious aims are here more than mere epiphenomena" (p. 7). If we recall the charge of "mechanistic" against the social sciences, and the widespread recognition that social science is too rationalistic, it is easy to see how both evolutionists (the more likely mechanistic candidates) and mainstream social scientists would be perplexed by such language.
The populational part of the paradigm is based on the assumption, oft repeated, that no two individuals are alike, and thus "it becomes clearly a mistake to ignore or minimize individual variations, as behavioral scientists and those wedded to the goal of a hard systematic human science are in fact prone to do" (p. 9). How so? Very strange indeed!
Underlying the author's "IMPish paradigm" is the notion of self-selection. As White puts it, the "overall organizing concept of this book is that of self-selection," namely, "the idea that our genetically based propensities and capabilities will lead an individual during the course of his or her life to seek environments which he or she finds congenial." The effect of this position, not entirely clear to this reader, would seem to replace the Darwinian mechanism of evolution with a vague mixture of what might be termed mentalist environmentalism. Indeed, if the author is not averse to Darwinian theory, he does say rather odd things about it. Thus, from the self-selection perspective, the organism "plays an active role in the evolutionary process and ceases to be wholly the passive product of blind external forces commonly associated with the term "'natural selection'" (p. 5). What the author prefers is "organic selection theory" according to which, in the quoted words of K. Popper and J. Eccles (The Self and Its Brain, 1977), "all organisms, but especially the higher organisms, have a more or less varied repertoire of behavior at their disposal. By adopting a new form of behavior the individual organism may change its environment..." (p. 5). This is hardly an anti-Darwinian alternative, and Popper, who as a Darwinian critic did much harm among social scientists, did not understand Darwin when he wrote this statement. In all fairness, however, a year later he recognized his errors and was "glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation." Popper's self-revision deserves to be better known (see K.R. Popper, 1978. "Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind." Dialectica 32:339-58).
The book contains seven chapters, including the Introduction (chap. 1) on which I have just touched briefly, and six subsequent chapters. Chapters 2 and 3 are, respectively, on how organizations select their members, along with some consequences of the modality, and on the "neuropolitics of covert action." Given the centrality of self-selection, the focus in both chapters is on the propensity toward the formation of congenial bonds and networks.
The core of chapter 2 is described thus: "In essence it is asserted that individuals who, by virtue of similar brains, share similar interests and outlooks tend to bond and to form networks and hence organizational clusters" (pp. 19-20). Students of evolution and behavior may be expected to be favorably disposed toward this assumption. But the focus in recent decades, and all the more so in the last 10-15 years, has been on experimental demonstration, or reliance thereon, for the testing of hypotheses. White remains at the level of mere assertions. The few and very brief incursions into neurobiology and endocrinology take the form of vacuous appeals to rather dated publications. Nor does the author bother with such tools as kin selection and altruism theory. To the extent that his tangents might skim such areas, he tends to stultify them. For example: "Members from the same ethnic background should, simply on sociobiological grounds [a form of demonstration, this!], enjoy a relative advantage in bonding. Once again, however, it is necessary to transcend a merely mechanical genetic accounting" (p. 23). Again: "It may be an error...to view nepotism simply as a quantitative reflection of a proportion of genes held in common" (p. 25). Such statements reveal a disregard of modern studies of evolution and behavior, reflected also in the fact that almost none of the scholars in this area seem to be known to the author. They may also have the effect of reinforcing in social scientists the erroneous conception that "biological determinism" is rampant among sociobiologists.
"In essence, the thesis of this chapter  is that for the covert action network internal biology and external environment complement one another with potentially important political consequences" (p. 41). Gaucheries of the aforementioned types aside, this sort of statement rings true, at least to evolutionists. But again they, like their more traditional colleagues in the social sciences, would want some sort of demonstration either through experimental data or at least through logical linkage to established theory. What they get is reviews, with some interesting but non-theoretical recasting, of the E. Howard Hunt (Watergate) and the Oliver North (Iran-Contra affair) long overwrought cases (pp. 50-67).
Chapter 4, which together with Chapter 5, constitutes Part II, is largely devoted to a definition and illustration of "space-time horizon" along with a review of some relevant literature, in particular R.K. Merton's local-cosmopolitan typology, on which the author certainly improves in a typolopical sense. The central theme of the chapter is that the wider an individual's horizon, the greater the control over his or her life and the lives of others. The differences in space-time horizon are alleged to have evolutionary, developmental, and neurobiological bases, but the author seems to confuse the suggestion that, for example, brain damage has a bearing on space-time horizon with the alleged neurobiological basis of individual differences in space-time horizon (pp. 73-74).
Chapter 5, devoted to nothing less than "the neuropolitics of the [U.S.A.] constitution," presents brief, interesting psychobiographies of the Founding Fathers in terms of the local-cosmopolitan typology and focuses on the cosmopolitans, e.g., Franklin, Washington, Hamilton, Madison. Other typologies abound. There are, for example, cosmopolitans by nature, by convention, and by choice. The first are alleged to "have the genetically based capacity for the development of a broad space-time horizon," while, for instance, "locals by nature" (the Antifederalists) "had no real capacity to transcend their social and political milieu" (pp. 89-90).
Chapters 6 and 7 are devoted to the neuropolitics of alienation. The former discusses several typologies of feelings in relation to the environment, for example, "satisfied," "trapped," or "overwhelmed." A critical review of a number of studies strengthens the author's position that each type of feeling implies a distinctive set of political behaviors on the part of the individual. "If the trapped," for instance, "strike out at the status quo, the overwhelmed are wed to it.... If the trapped turn radical, the overwhelmed lean toward the reactionary. Straining under the present system, yet wanting no radical change, they may yearn nostalgically for the illusory 'good old days' when times were simple and honest effort was appreciated" (p. 125).
This type of language is fairly standard among American political scientists, and one is tempted to seek in it a lesson for the so-called revolution in present-day American politics. But it is hard to think of "revolutionary conservatives" as suffering from feelings of being overwhelmed rather than from feelings of being trapped. It is harder still to think that they want no radical change, and merely yearn for the good old days, which for most Americans are necessarily more mythology than illusion.
Finally, chapter 7 applies the local-cosmopolitan typology to the conflict over the old debate on the Equal Rights Amendment. It consists largely of a critical review of literature on the subject and, unavoidably, some discussion of feminist literature.
In conclusion, White's book certainly can be read with some profit. Moreover, the author deserves praise for attempting to turn political scientists' attention to the importance of biological science. Unfortunately, he uses little or no biological theory. Missing in the volume are tools highly relevant to his subject matter. They include kin selection, theories of altruism, fitness theory, the growing information from endocrinology and brain anatomy, and even the theory of natural selection itself.
by BENJAMIN ROSSEN, Heikampen 40, 5672 SM Nuenen, Netherlands.
The increasing role of paternal involvement in child rearing in Western
middle class society has generated interest in, and publications about,
father-child relations. This book concentrates on societies other than the
predominantly white stratified middle class societies which have been the
focus of the majority of published work. Participation of the father at
child birth, and involvement with the upbringing, especially vigorous
play, have been identified as important for the bonding between father
and child, and as support for the wife and mother. These perceptions
have led to changes of popular perceptions of the father's role and reform
of public policy, such as the increasing norm of paternal presence at the
birth of a child. However, the role of formal education and the ubiquitous media as vectors of
culture has divested the contemporary father of
roles that are important in many non-western societies. Fathers in non-western societies, on the
other hand, are seldom present at the birth of
their infants and vigorous play is not central to infant-father interactions.
However, there are some universal characteristics: fathers provide less
direct care than mothers, they are expected to provide at least some
economic support, and support the mothers economically and/or emotionally. This volume
aims to elucidate the diversities and commonalities
in the fathers' role across many different natural and social environments.
Perhaps the most important distinguishing feature of this volume is the
inclusion of sociobiological interpretation and comparative cultural analyses, which were all
carried out by field workers reporting original quantitative and qualitative observations. This is
an anthology of original research.
The two approaches represented in this volume called for fundamentally important, but at times subtle, distinctions. The sociobiological term 'investment', borrowed from evolutionary biology, refers to the contribution of the father to his own reproductive success. This may be direct investment in the child, or contributions to the broader social network surrounding the child which represents indirect investment. 'Involve ment', on the other hand, is the term used to describe paternal interaction with offspring when the cultural or psychological factors are the focus of the analyses. These terms are precisely defined and used correctly throughout this volume, giving evidence of thorough editing and coordination among the contributing authors.
The first section of the book concentrates on biosocial analyses which, though seen by some to be reductionist in the negative sense, provide a useful theoretical framework for examining the way in which biological constraints may determine or influence the male role in child care and rearing. Life effort, comprised of a somatic effort (development and main tenance of the father) and reproductive effort (including mating and parenting) are components of the fathers' fitness in the Darwinian sense. The nature of the biological constraints emphasises the common interests, concerns and emotions experienced by fathers all over the world. More parental effort than mating effort is described as the 'dad' strategy, while the reverse is dubbed the 'cad' strategy, with the latter being more characteristic of the male than the female because of his low risk and energy investment in insemination. Predictions based on this model are tested by the authors.
Several chapters indicate that there might be some problems with the sociobiological model which predicts altruism towards closely related children (chapters 1, 7 and 8), though genetic relatedness and certainty of paternity effect paternal care (chapters 1 to 4). Competition among males for access to females, especially the effect of wealth and status, influences care giving (chapters 3,4 and 5) but not always in the ways predicted by the theory.
Chapter one looks at some theoretical issues related to the choice between direct paternal investment in offspring and mating effort among nonhuman primates. Sociobiological theory predicts that paternity certainty is correlated with direct paternal investment. The investigation concentrated on polygamous species, and came to the conclusion that paternity certainty hypothesis did not provide an adequate hypothesis to explain all the differences observed, a conclusion supported by the fact that several highly promiscuous species showed considerably more frequent male care of infants than did any of the species breeding in single male groups and thus having very high paternity certainty. This is said to be a consequence of female choice favouring investing males, as is observed among humans in several societies, thus blurring the distinctions between direct and indirect investment.
Chapters two to five, inclusive, identify evolutionary factors that contribute to intercultural variability in father investment. In some populations paternal absence has a major negative impact on the health of the offspring, in others none or the impact may even be positive. Chapter two examines offspring survivorship in two groups of hunter gatherer populations. The relationship between paternal effectiveness in reducing child mortality and marital pair bond stability was examined, suggesting that the relationship was not significant for the groups examined, though the data was insufficiently discriminatory in my opinion to justify a general conclusion. Chapter three examined behaviour in a Caribbean village using ethnological methods, and found patterns of direct paternal care changing as a function of offspring age and sex, with fathers interacting more with their genetic offspring than with step offspring, and less antagonistically. Income was found to be a predictor of the number of mates with whom males reproduced; high income males having more children born of a greater number of females and investing more directly in their offspring than do poor males. Chapter four examined variations in paternal investment in four Yanomamö villages and showed that many independent variables needed to be measured before a predictive model could be constructed, illustrating methodological difficulties with this kind of sociobiological research. Chapter five examines the very high direct paternal investment found among the Ifaluk, and showed how powerful men in this society were able to exploit the labour of others, leaving them with more time to pursue mating and direct investment strategies, corroborating the finding in the Caribbean communities. Examination of the reproductive histories of men from different strata of the Ifaluk society shows that the chiefs had resources to maintain a large harem and to provide better parental care, both directly and indirectly while salaried men were the most prolific and best providers.
Chapters six to eight, inclusive, move towards a cultural anthropological analysis, comparing this approach with the sociobiological paradigm. Chapter six examines the relationship between parents and adult children among the !Kung, important in this population because of the role of children as a form of old age insurance. Older people with admired social qualities and with many surviving offspring fared well, while elders without kin and with social debts fared less well. A common answer to the survey was: "If you have a child you have a life." How ever, demographic data showed that this relationship was more significant for women than for men. Chapter seven looked at husband wife reciprocity among the Aka Pygmies. Here the hunting activities, under taken by both sexes, require a high level of reciprocal altruism, resulting in close cooperative activity between husband and wife teams, in turn leading to sharing of child care tasks, especially infant holding. This form of direct investment by the fathers, the highest recorded in the world, was found to be an example of somatic effort rather than reproductive effort as it had appeared. Chapter eight, on the basis of structured inter views with a sample of Australian Aborigines, examines the attitudes of men and women towards having children. The authors conclude that separation of mating effort from direct parenting is not always possible. Aboriginal women, by bearing a greater number of children, may actually be appeasing their husbands' desires for more children, or for more sons, thus preventing him from taking a new wife. This strategy seems to represent mating effort, but overlaps parenting effort. Again, two proximate chapters of this volume draw similar theoretical conclusions from studies of unrelated communities.
The second section of the book concentrates on how cultural and social anthropological factors affect the fathers' role, these being (1) the physical and social setting of everyday life, (2) culturally regulated customs of care and rearing, and (3) the cognitive and affective orientations of parents and other care givers.
In chapter nine cross cultural models of human development are discussed by Harkneess and Super, developing their theoretical model of the 'developmental niche' on the basis of data from Cambridge, New England and Kokwet, Kenya. They show how Kipsigi fathers emphasised the importance of their economic obligations to their children and the children's obligations to be honest, obedient and diligent in their work. In contrast, the Cambridge fathers speak of building strong affective relationships with their children and providing them with the intellectual and social stimulation needed for building self esteem and cognitive skills necessary for success in life. These differences flow from both cultural and economic factors.
Chapters ten and eleven identify factors in the physical and social setting that contribute to the level and nature of father child relations. The study in chapter ten drew from African, Central American, Asian and Pacific cultures confirming the relatively low involvement of fathers with their children in mid-level subsistence societies. This study also examines the effect of father presence or absence on the development of gender identity in boys and the boys' attention to other males as compensatory behaviour for the absence of a father. The fact that father absent boys engage in compensatory attentiveness to males in their social environment is consistent with the presence of the father being critical ele ment in appropriate sex-role development for boys. Chapter eleven compares male care of one year olds in the Efe forager society with Lese farmer society, showing how in each case the interaction with different distinct categories of persons models, teaches and elicits different behaviours. Children's involvement with their fathers and other males is shap ed by socio-cultural features, as are the social and cognitive skills they develop in activity with them. Fathers from both communities spend a wide range of time with their toddler children, though the forager fathers spend more time. Some doubt on the concept of a 'fathering role' emerged from the observation that unrelated men and boys behave like fathers when interacting with one year olds.
Chapter twelve starts with an interesting discussion of the child's role in societies, including psychodynamic interpretations of the meanings of a variety of acts and practices, and then moves on to the study of the Ongee practice of adopting their children to close friends. Within the Ongee culture there is the perception that a child belongs to the whole community, not to one family. The task of raising the children is shared. The game of hide and seek, played often between the men and boys with the men directing events from the village camp, takes on a ritual significance related to the hunting and gathering life style of the Ongee. This is analysed in Freudian terms, a rather antiquated theoretical frame of refer ence thrown into relief by the more rigorous sociobiological discourse preceding it.
Chapters thirteen and fourteen describe cultural factors in fathering among the egalitarian Batek, nomadic hunter-gatherers of Malaya, and the Cagayan Agta, foragers of the Philippine highlands. Among the Batek, constantly changing social groups move from one camp to an other, giving rise to a high degree of free choice for adults and children. Little distinction is made on the basis of sex of the child with respect to the kind of interactions; mothers and fathers enjoying similar playful interactions with all their children. Among the Cagayan Agta the mothers cross gender boundaries to enter hunting activities, almost universally reserved for men. Nevertheless, some gender differences in parent child interactions are observed with the primary burden of child rearing falling on the mothers. Agta fathers conform to general patterns of human male parenting behaviours in affection, handling and bodily contact and do not assume an unusual amount of parenting activities despite their wives' contributions to the economy of the group.
Chapters fifteen and sixteen emphasise how ideology and symbolic systems influence fathers' roles. Perceptions of parenting among the Nso of Cameroon are reported as part of an effort to develop an Afrocentric conceptual system for anthropological study, so called 'participatory research with the target group's interests in mind.' The focus of this chapter is on maternal and paternal ideas about parenting in a West African community. The typical care taking picture that emerges is one in which the parents lurk in the background while the actual parenting is provided by persons other than the biological parents, the role of being biological parents having a mystical significance and providing a connection between the community and the spiritual word. This polemical chapter ("...the sore point is their [the researchers] obsessive refusal to transcend the blind spots in Western perspectives.") is somewhat irritating in its overuse of superlatives and 'quote' marks about certain 'words' which are not citations. It is also one of the theoretically weaker chapters.
Chapter sixteen examines father child relations in China, where transformations of roles of individuals and institutions such as marriage are occurring because of increasing urbanisation, emergence of the nuclear family, decline in fecundity and declining power of the aged. Socialism has also changed the politics of kinship, shifting power from the heads of households, traditionally the men, to the state. Nevertheless, the ancient ideology of filial piety that encouraged total obedience, respect and loyalty towards the father in return for economic and moral support is still visible in the urban setting, though the patterns of behaviour described seem to approach Western modes of parenting. This is a more descriptive chapter compared to those preceding it.
This is not a revolutionary book nor one that provides us with a sweeping look at fundamental abstract principles. In Kuhn's terms, it is a good example of "normal science", executed competently and for the most part eloquently reported. As with any anthology containing the work of many authors, some variability in the quality is evident. On the other hand, the structure of the book is clear, logical and progresses smoothly from beginning to end. Each chapter contributes something new without too much repetition. It was a pleasure to read and comes highly recommended.
by J. PHILIPPE RUSHTON, Department of Psychology, University of
Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2.
The editor and two contributors to this volume are colleagues of mine at
the University of Western Ontario. Moreover, I have just published Race,
Evolution and Behavior (1994, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, ISBN 1-
56000-146-1), a book that depends on the importance of brain size and
biological intelligence. Thus, I must declare a personal interest before
beginning my entirely positive review.
Brain size and intelligence are features that distinguish humans from other animals. But they have been much neglected as topics of research over the past sixty years. Nonetheless they remain topics of great scientific interest and social importance and this book documents major advances made over the past decade.
Hans Eysenck provides a superb introduction, reviewing the history and conceptualization of the topic going back to Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, and on up to modern times including the contents of this book. Eysenck slices through definitional obscurities with customary flair. His discussion of hierarchical taxonomy is as applicable to science generally as to the meaning of intelligence.
Thomas J. Bouchard provides a magisterial integration of most of the research done to date on the genetics of intelligence, including his own work, published in various issues of Science, on identical twins reared apart. In over 60 printed pages he discusses a range of issues on genotype x environment correlation and how genes drive development over the lags and spurts of mental and physical maturation. This chapter, and another by Lee Anne Thompson on children from three months to adolescence, showing that genetic influences increase with age while environmental factors decrease, make it indisputable that genes contribute massively to cognitive ability.
In a monumental chapter of over 100 printed pages, Arthur R. Jensen and S.N. Sinha summarize physical correlates of intelligence such as brain size, body size, and myopia. These authors also review literature on race and social class differences in brain size and make it clear that (a) brain size is related to mental ability in children and adults, and (b) race and social class differences exist in brain size and mental ability. For example, Africans and African-Americans average a smaller brain and a lower intelligence than Europeans and European-Americans, albeit with much overlap in the distributions.
A chapter by Richard Lynn discusses the importance of nutrition for intelligence and proposes the provocative hypothesis that improvements in nutrition underlie inter-generational increases in brain size and test scores. Lynn further proposes that nutrition is responsible for some of the black-white difference in brain size and mental ability. He suggests that ensuring good nutrition for pregnant women and young children would be a more practical policy than increasing Head Start programs if the goal is to raise intelligence.
Other chapters describe how mental test scores are related to brain and hormonal functioning. Ian Deary and P.G. Caryl provide an in depth, 45 printed page summary of all the relevant literature on brain electrical potentials to confirm that smart people are mentally faster. Richard Haier reviews studies using position emission tomography (PET scans) to map glucose flow, finding that some prefrontal areas of the brain help solve digit manipulation problems and that smart people use less energy in making their solutions. Naylor, Callaway and Halliday describe biochemical correlates of human information processing and interface neuropharmacology and cognitive psychology. Perhaps one day there will be drugs to make us all smarter!
In a final chapter, Doreen Kimura and Elizabeth Hampson review the hormonal mechanisms mediating sex differences in cognition. Their thesis is that androgen enhances spatial and mathematical ability whereas estrogen makes for verbal fluency, perceptual speed, and fine eye-hand motor coordination. They present remarkable evidence, from their own laboratories, that hormonal control of intellectual variation holds, not merely across sexes, but also within sexes. For example, as estrogen decreases across the menstrual cycle, women approximate more to the typical male pattern.
Altogether this is a finely crafted and important reference book for anyone interested in these topics. The occasional reference by some of the contributors (especially Bouchard, Jensen and Sinha, and Kimura and Hampson) to evolutionary processes suggests that an even fuller integration may be possible in the not too distant future.