Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm

By Anthony Walsh | Go to book overview

structure and physiology and that we cannot eliminate the humanistic concept of rational human beings endowed with rights and responsibilities ( Restak, 1992).

Neurobiological theoretician Gerald Edelman ( 1987:329) insists that his concepts of neural functioning have no place for "genetic determinism. . . . Instead, genetic and developmental factors interact to yield a system of remarkable complexity capable of a remarkable degree of freedom." Thus, sociologists need no more fear a neurodeterminism that neglects input from other areas of behavioral science than they need fear a monocausal genetic determinism. The combination of genes, environments, and the higher-order concept of neuronal selection that flows from them inclines me to have a more humanistic and liberating vision of the human condition than I could ever have if limited to the traditional social science image of human nature as simply a product of culture.


NOTES
1.
Other brain structural divisions have been proposed depending on theoretical orientation. Evolutionists like to divide it up according to evolutionary stages--reptilian, paleomammalian, and neomammalian--and some anatomists prefer a forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain division.
2.
Human response plasticity does not mean less genetic involvement than hardwired response systems. On the contrary, an open-response program requires more genetic information than a closed-response (hard-wired) program ( Symons, 1987:127-128). Think of this in terms of the relative sophistication of the wiring programs for a television set and for an interactive video system such as those used by the armed services in their war games. A television is a closed system designed to pick up electronic signals and translate them into pictures. One does not need much information wired in for such a relatively simple task. The television watcher can only "interact" with the set by changing channels or switching it off; he or she cannot change the outcome of the drama being played out on the set. The interactive video system has to have much more information wired into it because, although it is also designed to pick up signals and translate them into pictures, it has to interact with a number of players who can alter the outcome of the drama in ways not easily predictable.
3.
The idea that genes alone do not determine neuronal organization can be experimentally tested in the lab. Cloned animals, who are thus genetically identical, can be subjected to different environmental experiences and their neuronal patterns then compared. If genes were solely responsible for synaptogenesis, then axonal branching would be identical in isogenetic animals. Yet it is found that while the genes guide the neuronal architecture in each animal identically, the pattern of axonal branching is usually more variable from one clone to the other than between the left and right sides of the brain of the same individual ( Changeux, 1985:207-208).
4.
For a comprehensive view of the many putative physical, social, and psychological affects of love deprivation, see Walsh ( 1991b).
5.
It might be more correct to refer to the unfused sutures of infants as an example of an exaptation (co-opted for their current role) rather than as an adaptation (explic-

-66-

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Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Note xv
  • Chapter 1 the Case for Biosociology 1
  • Notes 16
  • Chapter 2 Genetics and Human Behavior 19
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 3 the Brain and Its Environment 43
  • Notes 66
  • Chapter 4 Emotion and the Autonomic and Endocrine Systems 69
  • Notes 90
  • Chapter 5 Intelligence and Society 93
  • Notes 117
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter 6 Sexual Dimorphism and Sex-Role Behavior 121
  • Notes 142
  • Notes 144
  • Chapter 7 Human Sexuality and Evolution 145
  • Notes 170
  • Chapter 8 the Nature and Nurture of Criminality 173
  • Notes 197
  • Chapter 9 Love, Marriage, and the Family 201
  • Notes 224
  • References 227
  • Name Index 259
  • Subject Index 269
  • About the Author 273
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