Re: SOC Re: The Myth of Monogamy

Date: Tue Feb 20 2001 - 11:43:47 MST

I can't sort out the sarcasm from the real intention in this thread, but I
think there's a very important point about "human nature" in the subject
matter under discussion. Throughout much of the 20th Century, cultural
anthropology fell under the sway of an ideology that insisted that there
really wasn't a thing called "human nature". Margaret Meade's infamous
intellectual fraud in "Coming of Age in Samoa" is just the most acute example
of how this ideology rode roughshod over empiricism. We are just now seeing
the beginnings of a return to the idea of truly scientific endeavor of
cultural anthropology. As a result, I find just about any argument based on
the field work of cultural anthropologists during the last 70 years to be

With that said, study of the "nature" of human sexuality is, I think, still
very much in its infancy. Sorting out the "IS" from the "OUGHT" is an
important first step, and one that is exceedingly difficult in these days of
ideologically-charged "gender politics" in the West and elsewhere. Further,
distinguishing between the drives engendered by our hormones and evolutionary
imperatives on the one hand and how we ought to behave to satisfy other goals
or values on the other hand can be a tricky undertaking. I suspect that much
of the "free love" sentiment of the 60s derives from such confusion. After
all, condemning monogamy as "a custom built by the local religious death
cult's priesthood against having fun with your body" certainly seems like it
ought to make getting laid by a wide variety of sex partners easier
(especially when such sentiments are espoused by a hipster anthropology
professor in a class full of nubile young co-eds).

Don't mistake what I've written above as some sort of reactionary apology for
cultural conservatism. Far from it. Instead, I'm simply encouraging a
healthy skepticism about how we think about human sexuality and questions of
reproductive behavior.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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