Gould would have really liked this quote (more on Durkheim)

From: Scott Chase (ecphoric@hotmail.com)
Date: Thu 12 Feb 2004 - 05:39:10 GMT

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    This next quote should really cap it off. I should have added it to my previous post where I quoted Durkheim on historic origin versus current utility, because he now explicitly talks about functional shifts (page 91):

    (bq) "What shows plainly the dualism of these two orders of research is that a fact can exist without being at all useful, either because it has never been adjusted to any vital end or because, after having been useful, it has lost all utility while continuing to exist by the inertia of habit alone. There are, indeed, more survivals in society than in biological organisms. There are even cases where a practice or a social institution changes its function without thereby changing its nature."

    Not only is he talking about functional shifts, his comment "a fact can exist without being at all useful" smells strongly of nonadaptive qualities. Thus in Durkheim we have seen the distinction of current utility versus historic origin, functional shifts and perhaps spandrels? He's my kind of social scientist though he could go a little easier on the autonomy of sociology stuff so as not to scare the ev psychers too much.

    I've always said how much I admire the French ;-)

    Durkheim E. 1938. The Rules of Sociological Method. The Free Press. New York

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