Blog 3

1 Commentby   |  03.04.13  |  Student Posts

Evolutionary theory has had a drastic effect on the discipline of psychology. Evolutionary psychology has arisen as its own field, and ushered in a new era of psychology based upon the new understanding of our origins. This new drive in psychology aims to provide explanations for human actions and behaviors within the context of our evolutionary past. Many of the findings of evolutionary psychology have been provocative in presenting alternative views of human nature, especially those that stand in opposition to those postulated by religion, and it has also revealed a great deal about how we operate on a subconscious instinctual level to propagate our genes. While evolutionary psych has told us much about ourselves, there are still many questions to be asked, and several obstacles to overcome. One aspect of evolutionary psychology that provides a problem to many is its tendency to be very reductionistic. I remember Dr. McAnulty saying in class that we shouldn’t reduce ourselves and, while I agree, I also believe that reducing ourselves is perhaps an essential facet of evolutionary psychology, if not one of its goals. If it is not the goal, I still wonder if it is an inevitable consequence of a materialist-evolutionary mindset. We are bound to eventually reduce ourselves to semiconscious animals composed of mere atoms with not much control over our existence. Further, I don’t think evolutionary theory is much in concordance with free will. This leaves us a lot of ideas, like free will, and thoughts that may or may not serve much of a purpose, evolutionarily speaking. I think that the most important thing is that we don’t discard our subjective mental experiences in the wake of evolutionary theories that may provide valid explanations of human nature, as I believe it is the original goal of psychology to understand and study those subjective mental phenomenon. I don’t want new discoveries in any science to detract from that goal since I feel it can help us better understand one another and live in peace. Sorry for the sounding like Miss America at the end.

1 Comment

  1. Paige Wilson
    7:52 pm, 03.05.13

    I like your emphasis on the reductionist tendencies of evolutionary psychology. If all of our thoughts and beliefs stem solely from biological processes there is no free will. No free thought. Humans are nothing more than animals that have learned to talk to each other about nonsense. Love is relatively meaningless and faith in anything is pointless. Why not create a super race through genetic alterations and extermination of undesirables?

    I believe this is where humanistic criticism becomes very important. I refuse to live a life without hope. I also refuse to evaluate people by their biology only. In my opinion the human experience is about relationship and personal growth, which cannot ever be explained by science alone.

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