European Sociobiological Society (ESS)

Purpose of the ESS

Dear Colleague,

We would like to draw your attention to the existence and the activities of the European Sociobiological Society (ESS). Anybody within the scientific community interested in the topic of sociobiology, (human) ethology, Darwinian psychology, psychobiology, evolutionary psychiatry, behavioural ecology, biopolitics, bioeconomics, or evolutionary aspects of human or animal behaviour, is welcome to apply for membership. The ESS has the objective of serving as a forum for the study of the role of biological factors in the behaviour of animals and man, with special emphasis on evolutionary aspects. The Society will, according to its Statutes, refrain from using or abusing such studies for political purposes. Candidate members are accepted as full members at the annual business meeting.

Membership dues
The membership dues are D.fl. 40,- (about 25 US$), preferably to be paid by VISA or Euro/Mastercard. Payment by Eurocheque or Dutch postal giro (in Dutch currency only) is also possible. Candidate members are exempt from payment in the year of application. After admittance to full membership, members will automatically receive an annual invoice from the ESS treasurer.

Members receive at least 4 ESS Newsletters a year (with interesting book reviews), plus an annual update of the List of Members, an annual update of the Books on Sociobiology, and the Book of Abstracts of the Annual ESS Meeting.

Publications of the Society include: Essays in Sociobiology (2 Vols. 1985, 1986), The Sociobiology of Ethnocentrism (1987), The Sociobiology of Sexual and Reproductive Strategies (1989), Sociobiology and Conflict (1990), The Aquatic Ape Theory: Fact or Fiction? (1991), The Nature of the Sexes: The Sociobiology of Sex Differences and the 'Battle of the Sexes' (1992), Sociobiology and Politics (1998), Sociobiology and the Arts (1999), In-group/Out-group Behaviour in Modern Societies: An Evolutionary Perspective (1999), and The Darwinian Heritage and Sociobiology. Other volumes are in preparation.

Thank you for your attention.

Statutes of the ESS

Name and location: Article 1
1. The association's name is: European Sociobiological Society.
2. The association is located in the municipality of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Objectives: Article 2
The association has the objective of serving as a forum for the study of the role of biological factors in the behaviour of animals and man, with special emphasis on evolutionary aspects. The association will refrain from using or abusing this study for political purposes.

Duration: Article 3
1. The association was founded on August 21, 1982. Its duration is fixed at an indefinite time.
2. The association's year shall coincide with the calendar year.

Membership: Article 4
1. The association shall consist of members who are scholars in any academic field, have an active interest in biological aspects of behaviour, and agree with the association's objectives.
2. Members shall be admitted by decision of the general assembly.
3. A list of candidate members shall be distributed at least three weeks before each meeting.
4. Objections to the admission of a candidate member shall be submitted in writing to the Board. The Board shall report to the General Assembly at its next meeting. The General Assembly shall decide on any course of action.

Article 5
Membership cannot be transferred or assigned.

Article 6
1. Membership shall terminate: a. by decease of the member; b. by giving notice of the member; c. by giving notice by the Association; d. by expulsion.
2. Termination can only be effected towards the end of the Association's year, in writing and with a term of notice of at least one month.
3. Termination of the membership by the Association can only be implemented if a member does not fulfil the obligations attached to the membership.
4. Expulsion can only take place when a member acts in violation of these statutes, rules or decisions of the Association, or when a member injures the Association. Expulsion is effected by the General Assembly on proposal of the Board. The member in question is informed as soon as possible, with a statement of reasons.

Obligations: Article 7
1. Members shall pay an annual contribution, the amount of which shall annually be fixed by the General Assembly on the basis of an estimation of the costs.
2. Members are not accountable for the commitments engaged by the Association nor are they liable to contribute to any losses of the Association.

Board: Article 8
1. The board shall consist of at least three individuals, one of which fulfils the function of chairman, one the function of secretary, and one the function of treasurer.
2. The board members shall be appointed by the General Assembly. The General Assembly has at any time the right to appoint additional members of the Board.
3. At all times Board members may be dismissed or suspended by the General Assembly with a statement of reasons.
4. Board members are appointed for a period of two years. The period between two successive annual general assemblies is one year. Periodically retiring Board members are re-eligible.
5. An incomplete board remains competent to manage the Association.

Article 9
1. The Board shall be in charge of managing the Association including the carrying out of all acts in law, none excluded. Even so, the General Assembly is entitled to lay down in an appropriate resolution that for certain well described Board decisions its approval is required. The absence of such approval cannot be used against third parties.
2. The Secretary shall be in charge of the day-to-day running of the Association. The Board can delegate to him tasks and authorities.
3. The Board shall meet as often and wherever the chairman decides.
4. The Board shall take decisions unanimously.
5. The Board's decisions are recorded, duly signed by the Chairman and Secretary. They are open to members at all times.

Article 10
1. The Board shall represent the Association in law and otherwise.
2. The authority to represent shall also be granted to two members of the Board acting together.
3. The Board shall authorize the Secretary in an adequate way for the proper execution of his function.

General Assembly: Article 11
1. The General Assembly constitutes in the Association the highest power in the sense that all authority not granted by law or by these statutes to others lies with it; also in the sense that the General Assembly can instruct the Board in policy matters.
2. The General Assembly shall be held at a place indicated by the Board.
3. At least once a year a General Assembly shall be held within six months after termination of the Association's year, except for the prolongation of this term by the General Assembly. In this General Assembly, the Board shall submit its annual report, a balance sheet and a statement of profit and loss and other documents. The Board shall also submit a budget for the current year for approval by the General Assembly.
4. The General Assembly appoints annually a commission for investigation of the documents mentioned in the above subsection. The commission shall consist of at least two individuals who shall not be members of the Board.

Article 12
1. Apart from the General Assembly mentioned in the above article, general meetings can be called by the Board as often as it is deemed desirable.
2. At the written request of at least such a number of members as are authorized to constitute 1/10 of the votes in a plenary general assembly, the Board is obliged to call a general meeting within four weeks. Should the Board not comply with such request within two weeks, the requisitioners themselves may proceed to call the requested meeting.
3. The convocation of the General Assembly shall be made in writing to the members at least three weeks before the meeting. The convocation shall include the agenda for the General Assembly.

Article 13
1. The members shall have the right of voting; each one shall have one vote. Each member can authorize another member to vote for her/him by a written authorization. One member entitled to vote can at most represent two other members.
2. A unanimous decision of all members to vote in the General Assembly, although not present at the meeting but with of the Board, shall have the same force as a decision taken by the General Assembly.
3. The chairman has the power of decision in voting procedures not described in these statutes.
4. All decisions are taken by absolute majority. When votes are equally divided concerning other proposals than election of persons, these proposals are considered to be rejected. When votes are equally divided concerning election of persons, fortune will decide. If by an election, where more than two persons are involved, no one obtains an absolute majority, there shall be a reelection between the two persons who obtained a greater number of votes.

Statutes change: Article 14
1. These statutes cannot be altered except by a decision of the General Assembly, called with the announcement that the meeting at an alteration of these statutes will be proposed. Such a convocation shall be accompanied by the literal text of the proposed alteration.
2. Those having called the General Assembly for dealing with a proposition for alteration of these statutes, will have to expose for inspection of the members a copy of the proposed text at a suitable place, at least five days before the meeting till after the end of the day of the meeting.
3. The alteration of the statutes shall not become effective until a notarial act has been drawn up.

Liquidation and settlement: Article 15
1. Article 14, Part 1 and 2 shall also apply in case of a decision of the General Assembly to dissolve the Association.
2. The General Assembly shall determine the destination of the remaining surplus as much as possible in conformity with the objectives of the Association.
3. Settlement will be effected by the Board unless the General Assembly decides otherwise.
4. After liquidation, the Association will endure as long as necessary for the settlement of properties. The articles of these statutes will stay in force as much as possible during the period of liquidation. In documents and announcements of the Association the words "in liquidatie" (in liquidation) will have to be added to the name of the Association.

Official Statutes (Notarial Act dated June 10, 1983; Official Dutch Registration of Associations, Number V 534021).

History of the ESS

by Vincent Falger1 (from ESS Newsletter # 40, January 1996, Commemorative Issue: Obituary of Jan Wind, Founding Father of the ESS)

The history of ESS began with a meeting in 1981 of the contributors to a Dutch book on sociobiology, edited by Frans de Waal. Sociobiology Discussed: Evolutionary Roots of Human Behaviour? was published in the period that sociobiology was associated in the first place with controversies2. Emotions ran high when people dared to think of approaching human behaviour from a biological perspective. In the Netherlands, like in Great Britain and the United States, one ran a serious reputational risk if one tried to take biology seriously in the study of our own behaviour. For example, the Dutch criminologist Willem Buikhuizen, who a few years earlier performed very unconventional research to discover possible genetic defects in some type of criminals, was ostracised by his colleagues, was slandered in the press, and left Leyden University bitterly disillusioned.
    Frans de Waal, who in the early eighties was also working on his well-known Chimpanzee Politics, brought together a number of people who agreed to disagree on the scope, methods and results of sociobiology. De Waal, himself in the first place an ethologist in the Dutch tradition of Tinbergen, Baerends and van Hooff, recognised the intellectual stimulus of sociobiology, although he never wanted to be seen as a sociobiologist.
Among the thirteen authors of Sociobiology Discussed, Jan Wind [1932-1995] certainly took the most outspoken position with his contribution on the supposed genetic foundation of egoism and altruism. His opponents were Piet Vroon, a psychologist who criticised Jan's alleged 'genetic reductionism', and A.W. Musschenga, a moral philosopher who was not convinced by Jan's analysis of non-kin altruism. In Jan's answer to his critics we can read among others: "I also have argued that the [straight] relevance of sociobiology for daily life is not very great (as yet). That also goes for generally appreciated mental constructions and theories like 'continental drift', Darwinian evolution, cosmogeny and relativity. One of the tasks of sociobiologists (and other scientists) is to analyse how much (... OK, OK: how little) that relevance is." (p. 97).
    We can see this as illustrative of Jan's character: he liked to trigger thinking in unconventional directions, but he was not an intellectual warmonger. And if we read this as his scientific program, Jan has contributed very much to the promotion of the evolutionary approach of human behaviour. After Sociobiology Discussed was published, October 24-25, 1981, a public conference was held to stimulate further discussion of the subject.
At this meeting the first signs of international interest were present in the persons of Roland Corluy and Rob Cliquet from Belgium. Relaxing in the evening with a drink and a small cigar, we - that is, Jan, Roland, Rob, Hans van der Dennen and I myself - contemplated contentedly about the past discussion and the many people interested. I remember very clearly when Jan, in his characteristic quasi-noncommittal way, asked whether it wouldn't be a good idea to try to continue the interesting discussion on a more regular basis. Why not organise a small-scale follow-up conference, because he knew from his international contacts that not only a few Dutch and Belgians were interested in the subject. For me, these questions mark the moment that ESS was born, although its name originally was 'European Sociobiology Study Group'. And so the first meeting of this ESS Group took place August 21-22, 1982, in the International School for Philosophy in Leusden, the Netherlands. The following lengthy quotation is from the anouncement of this conference, and those who have known Jan as an ESS board member will recognise his style of presentation:

"The aim of this meeting is three-fold. First, there will be a, presumably short, business-meeting starting Aug. 21 at 2.00 pm. during which the participants are invited to elect the members of a board and to democratically decide upon the - presumably modest - membership contribution. The following and main part of the meeting will be dedicated to the scientific work mainly focusing on the possible contribution of biology - especially evolutionary biology - to the understanding of the social behavior of man and animals. A few invited speakers are scheduled among which professors A. Jaquard (Paris), O. Hansen (Lund), U. Melotti (Milano), and E. Voland (Göttingen). Topics to be discussed include sociobiology's relevance for linguistics, for sex ratio manipulation, for sexism and feminism, for political science, and for human family systems, and a methodological analysis of its underlying concepts. Next to these invited, 30 minutes, lectures there will be some place for free papers, the number of which we prefer to keep limited in order to have ample time for discussion. Papers that cannot be accomodated during this meeting can, however, probably be presented during a next one which, we hope, will be implemented a few months later (depending on the viability of this E.S.S. Group). [...] Finally, we hope that during this meeting informal contacts will be established and renewed for which purpose the chosen site [the International School for Philosophy] seems favourable."

At this meeting, August 21st, 1982, the European Sociobiological Society - the name was changed a slightly in order to exploit a well-known acronym as much as possible - was formed by 23 representatives of various academic professions from 7 European countries. As members of the Executive Committee Jan and I have been appointed; together with Weiert Velle (Oslo) we announced our society to various relevant journals and societies. Point 5 of ESS Newsletter no. 1 (October 1982) already announced the next meeting: February 5-6, 1983, at the same location in Leusden. The editor of this Newsletter - not more than one sheet of paper typed on an IBM typewriter showing traces of cutting and fixing - was, of course, Jan Wind. He would also be the first signatory of the official notary act which at June 10th, 1983, promoted ESS to the status of a legally recognised society under Dutch law, which it still is.
    It is true that without Jan's enthousiasm and seemingly unexhaustable working power ESS would not have been created in the first place and have become a modest, but undeniable success thereafter, but he was the opposite of an authoritarian leader. Jan knew the fine art of how to interest other people in the Society's objectives and activities. Not very keen on formal status, Jan preferred to work partly behind the screens in a very informal and personal way. After having been chairman during a short period, Jan chose to act as the Society's secretary, although he remained the driving force until the early nineties. The informality between him, myself and Hans van der Dennen, who from early on was drawn into the preparation of the ESS Newsletter, not only proved very efficient (that, at least, is my opinion), but it also provoked the development of a true friendship which meant to me very much more than I can say here. Jan realised that 'outsiders' might dislike this more or less closed shop business, but he himself ironically talked publicly about us as 'the Dutch mafia', and he always was open to critical suggestions. More than once, especially in recent years, he suggested to retreat from the board as an active member. After all, Jan was not married to ESS, as among other things he showed in his equally active organizational function of founding father and chairman of the Language Origins Society3 and his since 1989 increasing involvement in combatting Kafkaesquely institutionalised child protection organizations.
    One of Jan's great charms was that he enjoyed organizational work, but liked even more the intellectual discussion between people from different disciplinary backgrounds4. Evolutionary theory certainly is an inviting area in this respect, and ESS has profited from Jan's undogmatic, non-'school' type of approach. In our meetings, initially twice a year, there was - and still is - much room for unconventional ideas and starters in the field; too much, it is sometimes said. The conference on the aquatic ape theory (in 1987 in Valken burg, the Netherlands, co-organised with Machteld Roede) was a fine example of discussion between scientists among each other and between them and those without formal universitary positions. The resulting book The Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction?, edited by Machteld Roede, Jan Wind and Vernon Reynolds (Souvenir Press, 1991), is one of the many enduring results of these conferences in which 'the scientific work' contributed to the fringes of science itself5. The tradition for this had been set by Jan's editorship of a special issue of the Journal of Human Evolution (vol. 14 (1), 1984; reprinted as Essays in Human Sociobiology, vol. I, 1985), and, together with Vernon Reynolds, volume II of the Essays (1986). The nine edited volumes, seven published and two in preparation, may not have changed our views of evolutionary biology as such, but they reflect ESS's role of attracting attention to new aspects of and insights in, mostly, human behaviour as seen from the most fundamental perspective, evolutionary theory.
    It would be highly appropriate to dedicate the volume hopefully coming out of the successful 1995 ESS conference in Cambridge on 'The Darwinian Heritage and Sociobiology', organised by his ESS and LOS friend Robin Allott, to the memory of Jan Wind, the really talented and continually inspiring man whom our Society will miss dearly.

1. Dept. of International Relations, University of Utrecht, Achter Sint Pieter 200, 3512 HT Utrecht, The Netherlands. E-mail:
2. See, among others, V.S.E. Falger (1984): Sociobiology and political ideology. Comments on the radical point of view. Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 13, 129-135.
3. LOS was founded in 1985 in Cracow, Poland, after it was proposed two years earlier in Vancouver. It is fair to state that Jan's interest in the origins of speech and language date back to his thesis On the Phylogeny and the Ontogeny of the Human Larynx. A Morphological and Functional Study, which he defended in 1970. See also Bernard H. Bichakjian in LOS Forum, no. 21, Fall 1995, 1-3, 'In Memoriam Jan Wind'.
4. Jan himself was everything but a single-minded scientist. Trained as a physician, he combined a florishing practice as an ear, nose and throat specialist with his scientific interests in genetics and human evolution, in particular behaviour and speech. He has been a part-time lecturer in the faculty of medicine of the Free University in Amsterdam since 1974. In November 1991 Jan became a professor of evolutionary behavioural biology, with special emphasis on the origins of human speech, at the same university. In the period of 1972 to 1985 he every year made a trip to one or more Third World countries (in East Africa, India and Nepal) to practice in villages and teach local physicians, nurses and medical students (he was very much interested in development problems, f.e. 'On acculturation and health in traditional societies: noble savages vs. noble savants' Human Ethology Newsletter, vol 5 (1989), no. 9, 5-6), but also collected blood samples for research in his dept. of biological anthropology and visited paleo-archeological sites related to human evolution. Research on fossils in African collections, for example, resulted in 'CT scanning of fossil hominid skulls', Clinical Otolaryngology, vol. 14 (1989), 368-9 (together with F. Zonneveld) and 'Neanderthal speech', New Scientist, no. 1677 (1989), 65. A much earlier, but also typical scientifically fascinating problem was 'Human drowning: phylogenetic origin', Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 5 (1976), 349-363. In 1994 he sent a reprint to two Dutch colleagues who had published an article on submersion with children, telling them in an accompanying short letter that he became interested in the problem after he as a medical student had rescued a boy out of one of Utrecht's canals leading alongside the academic children's hospital where the authors worked. Of course, he never mentioned that in public, but he used such a detail to make new contacts. It is hardly surprising that one of the last initiatives Jan took, was stimulating a small group of Dutch high school biology teachers to discuss the problem caused by the question whether or not evolution should be made a part of the written examination in biology (fundamentalist forces had gained support for the vision that Darwinist evolution was not science, but just a philosophical orientation).
5. An other illustration of the importance Jan attached to his task of promoting new insights from science was his function since 1977 as an author of tens of 'nutshell' reviews of books about medicine and biology for the Dutch Public Library Center in The Hague. He then also paid attention to the quality of the translation.

Officers of the ESS

Chairman: Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Meyer, Sozialwissenschaften, Universität Augsburg, Germany.

Secretary and ESS Newsletter Editor: Dr. Johan M.G. van der Dennen, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Treasurer: Dr. Vincent S.E. Falger, Dept. International Relations, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Board Member and Book Review Editor: Dr. Marcel Roele, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Board Member: Prof. Dr. Marina Butovskaya, University of Moscow, Moscow, Russia.

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