This first part of a two-part series exploring implications of the natural differences between the sexes for the cultural evolution of marriage assesses whether Kant should be condemned as a sexist due to his various offensive claims about women. Being antithetical to modern-day assumptions regarding the equality of the sexes, Kant’s views seem to contradict his own egalitarian ethics. A philosophical framework for making cross-cultural ethical assessments requires one to assess those in other cultures by their own ethical standards. Sexism is inappropriate if it exhibits or reinforces a tendency to dominate the opposite sex. Kant’s theory of marriage, by contrast, illustrates how sexism can be egalitarian: given the natural differences between the sexes, different roles and cultural norms help to ensure that females and males are equal. Judged by the standards of his own day and in the context of his philosophical system, Kant’s sexism is not ethically inappropriate.
HoST - Journal of History of Science and Technology 12, pp. 1-22
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
The Evolution of Knowledge:
Rethinking Science in the
epistemic evolution, culturalevolution, Anthropocene, global society
1 This paper is based on excerpts from: Jürgen Renn, The Evolution of Knowledge: Toward a Historical
Theory of Human Thinking (Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming in 2019), and published
with kind permission of
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Globalization challenges the usefulness of different paradigms of socio-cultural evolution and opens the possibility for their hybridization. In this paper, two paradigms of evolution, the transformational (Spencerian) and the variational / selectionist (Darwinian), as discerned by Fracchia and Lewontin (1999), are examined along with their social theoretical counterparts. Most social theories of development are connected to different evolutionary paradigms in different historical contexts. The transformational paradigm prevailed until the end of the Cold War (e.g. theories of modernization), and the selectionist paradigm, in various theoretical forms, thereafter (e.g. Huntington, Eisenstadt). Most developmental policies today prefer the selectionist paradigm in terms of the neoliberal free market. The transformational paradigm in development policies was predominant in the era of the welfare state in the West, and its counterpart in the era of the statism of the East. Sustainable development in a socio-cultural sense is the youngest and the least consistent policy concept, and it is not founded on the evolution paradigms. The concept was launched by the UN as an attempt at mediating, mostly on the grounds of ecological alarms, between the free-market and statist policies. The author considers the hybridization of these two paradigms to be a proper conceptual foundation of sustainable development. On this premise, he expounds the concept of a culturally oriented sustainable development, arguing that hybrids of developmental policies are more suitable for a decent survival of most countries.
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Religion has been intensely studied in the last years inside an evolutionary frame, trying to discern to what extent it contributes to fitness or becomes an adaptive entity in its own. A similar heuristic can be tried regarding the opposite tendency: unbelief and atheism, since these cultural phenomena could help to better adapt to some social settings or become an adaptive socio-cultural niche on its own. The present paper examines some scenarios in which that question makes sense: the tradition of sociology of religion, with its different strands, including recent studies on ‘non-religious’; the cognitive; and the philosophical-theological reflection. The proposed venues show to what extent the evolutionary model might reveal neglected aspects in the study of unbelief, and at the same time its limits or the open questions that such application raise.
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The first part of this study, explored by Ashley Popp, presents an investigation into a relatively unexamined area of physical education: an analysis of a transcultural phenomenon in the history of dance. Data has been collected from primary sources and archival evidence to assess competing ideologies inherent in the transformation of a particular art form. In the analysis of the cultural migration through which belly dance was transferred from the Middle East to the United States, an adaptive reaction to the hegemonic relationships of culture, race, gender, and class has been observed. Beyond performance aesthetics, links have been made between the act of belly dancing and the building of women’s self-esteem, as researched by Chia-Ju Yen. The main purpose of her study was to explore how facial burn patients cope with disfigurement and the unfriendly attitudes of others, and examines the alteration of body image via inspiration provided by the performance of belly dance. This research was conducted from the perspective of an anthropologically thickdescription research method, and a case study was performed using in-depth interviews, including narratives by a woman who had suffered facial injuries. The results of the research showed that through family support, hard work and a decisive and studious personality, the patient was able to cope with the discriminatory attitude of others. The performance of belly dance not only made her emphasize her body, but also enriched her life.
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