This is several years old now, but I came across a good article here from The New Atlantis on the rise and fall of sociobiology. A couple of themes stood out for me. The first had to do with the discussion surrounding the use of Darwinism for a conservative political ideology of the Right. People such as Larry Arnhart, Steven Pinker, and others tell us how Darwinism is actually the scientific foundation for “family, moral limits, social duties, and personal responsibility.” I find this interesting when considering the evidentialist justifications of those on the Right and Left when it comes to a supposed objective “science” and how we should “see” things as they do, based upon the “evidence.” It seems clear, as noted in the postmodern critique, that what we bring to the “evidence” determines how we will “see” or interpret that evidence and thus the reason that both the Left and the Right can always claim they are only using “science” and looking at the “evidence” even as they (Gee, that’s funny) come down on different sides of many of the same issues.
Both the Left and the Right’s bluff needs to be called here. They need to be told that their standard mantras such as, “I’m just citing the evidence” or their appeals to “evidence” are nothing more than evasions (It is really a strategy to stifle debate)–and what we really need to know is why the evidence has to be imagined or interpreted the way they say it must. Of course, they never want to answer those questions because at the end of the string we always find a simple assertion of faith.
This leads to the other point of interest in the essay. In the concluding paragraph, the author writes, “Fundamentalist creationism and rigidly atheistic evolutionism are both pretty implausible.” In many ways, these two “Fundamentalisms” are the fathers of our modern political fundamentalisms of both Right and Left. So the author’s statement also sums up the problem with the modern Left and Right, in America at least. Both are modern creations of the Enlightenment birthed from heretical theological moves from within the womb of the Christian narrative. The author correctly connects the two movements and sensibilities, since they are more like cousins fighting over a family will than the strangers they suppose the other to be.
As noted in other posts, it is these two sides (Fundamentalisms of the Left and Right) to the same modernist coin who still hold sway, one in academia and the other at a popular cultural level. Both claim they have the “evidence;” and both are, indeed, no longer plausible, if they ever were to begin with. And therein resides the more interesting features of the modern/postmodern conversation.