Saturday, January 08, 2011

Peter Lawler on Darwinian Conservatism

Over at the "Big Think" website, Peter Augustine Lawler has written a blog post on Darwinian conservatism.

This essay is a good short statement of Peter's points of agreement and disagreement with me. He agrees that Darwinian conservatism offers a sensible understanding of human beings as social and political animals. His disagreement comes from his belief that this cannot be the whole truth about human beings, because it cannot explain the transcendent longings of the human soul, which can only be explained through a metaphysical conservatism.

Some of my posts responding to Peter can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

My comparison of Darwinian conservatism and metaphysical conservatism is developed in my recent article in The Intercollegiate Review.


parabarbarian said...

"If the other animals are so smart and political, where are the dolphin presidents and princes?"

Maybe the dolphins are too smart to fall into that trap. Hierarchical governments have not exactly been an unalloyed blessing to humanity.

So what? Speculation is easy. Evidence is hard. Lawler is just speculating from the absence of evidence then mistaking it for a conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Intellectuals have a real bad habit of painting a rather flattering and lofty picture of humans that is so far from reality.

The notion of transcendent longings of the human soul is not a typical human trait. Only a small minority of people in this world have real transcendent longings. The vast numbers of people on this planet are only concerned with their temporal existence and following the dictates of their selfish genes.

Other assumptions such as man is a creative and technological creature is equally wrong. Man is a boorish hominid in the aggregate, while only a handful are creative and techno geniuses.

Others assumptions like man is a friendly, social creature, ..... Wrong. Most humans in the world are tribal in nature, and are xenophobic and territorial.

Intellectuals hang around other intellectuals too much to really know the world. They think that the average person in the world is like the average college freshman.

Transcendent longings of the human soul? Perhaps a few, but for most of us it's simple ignorance and superstition.

I hate to sound so negative, but this unrealistic view of human nature has screwed up the sciences (especially the social science), has served as the basis of our politics and religion, and retarded our progress in really understanding human nature from biology and evolutionary development.

If you want to know people, don't use introspective analysis, but go out and meet all those lofty, social and spiritual geniuses you've been talking about all these years.

Anonymous said...


The average citizen of the world has an IQ of 90, and if it were not for China with 1.2 billion skewing the stats upward, it would be in the mid 80's. Nonetheless, the average person on this planet does not have the cognitive ability to sustain a technological society.

See Richard Lynn, IQ and the Wealth of Nations.