OK, Durkheim may not have been a spandrelist

From: Scott Chase (ecphoric@hotmail.com)
Date: Thu 12 Feb 2004 - 06:39:39 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: OK, Durkheim may not have been a spandrelist"

    My previous post raised the possibility that Durkheim had an appreciation for the existence of nonadaptive spandrels, but this next quote might throw a wet blanket over that possibility since he's starting to sound like a panadaptionist in a very nauseating way (p. 97):

    (bq) "Indeed, if the usefulness of a fact is not the cause of its existence, it is generally necessary that it be useful in order that it may maintain itself. For the fact that it is not useful suffices to make it harmful, since in that case it costs effort without bringing in any returns. If, then, the majority of social phenomena had this parasitic character, the budget of the organism would have a deficit and social life would be impossible." (eq)

    I *really* wish he hadn't said that. OK, he did appreciate the distinction between historic origin and current utility and mention functional shifts and in a previous quote seemed to be keen to the possibility of non-adaptive stuff, but then he goes and blows it wiith this panadaptive backtrack. Ugh! Score one for Gould over Durkheim.

    I passed over some discussion of division of labor because I had trouble parsing it and it seemed to summarize more detailed work.

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

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