Re: Plotkin's new book

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed Mar 27 2002 - 18:59:39 GMT

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Plotkin's new book
    Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 13:59:39 -0500
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    >From: Vincent Campbell <>
    >To: "''" <>
    >Subject: Plotkin's new book
    >Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 13:28:48 -0000
    >Hi Everyone,
    >As usual, whilst looking for something entirely unrelated, I ended up in my
    >uni bookshop yesterday buying a copy of Plotkin's new book 'The Imagined
    >World Made Real', which is about natural sciences and culture (there's a
    >section on memes not surprisingly).
    Oh great, another book to look for and buy so it can sit on the shelf
    collecting dust while awaiting its turn...
    >It looks pretty good, although it is making the case for encorporating the
    >social sciences into the natural sciences (particularly biology). I don't
    >have ideological problems with this, like many other social scientists do,
    >but do worry that if such a goal is ever achieved what the hell am I going
    >to do for a living? Being humanities/social science trained I don't think
    >reading a few books by Dawkins and Gould count as an education in
    >evolutionary biology.
    You could become a radical neo-Durkheimian and rally for the *sui generis*
    view of social facts, opposed to the imperialistic sociobiological camp.
    Arrogance and determinism cut both ways.

    There's nothing wrong with a all-inclusive multidisciplinary approach, but I
    find it hard to believe that a field like media studies is readily
    collapsible into biology. I don't think training in genetics, ecology, or
    physiology gives someone background for the nuances of studying various
    human cultural phenomenon, which have been studied within other disciplines
    like yours.

    Collapsing media studies into biology may be nothing more than a universal
    Darwinist pipe dream. Don't worry, your field may be safe from invasion.

    OTOH, communication between people whose strengths are in various fields
    related to biology, psychology, sociology, and anthropology may allow for a
    better "big tent" approach. You could learn from biologists and vice versa.

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