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Our Mother Tempers

For all of my academic life I have believed three things about what we generally call science to be most wondrous.[1] The first is the preoccupation with knowledge and truth as ends in themselves. The second is the power, relative to the first, of highly generalized theoreticalsystems . The third is the principle of parsimony , which is as close as we humans can ever come to getting something for nothing. My interest in social analysis has always been guided by these rather than by any empathy for my fellow human beings. I do not apologize for that; it is a fact.

The origin of this particular book is bizarre. In another connection I became involved in the question of whether legitimate reduction of social phenomena to puristically biological explanation is possible. On the one hand, most sociologists and anthropologists, joined by a rather surprising spate of biologists, maintain that such reduction is not, even in theory, a possibility. On the other hand, those who call themselves sociobiologists seem to hold, in essence, that if explanations of social phenomena get very far as science, most of them will be puristically biological explanations. Whether or not legitimate and elegant sci-

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 No. 412
 Posted on 9 June, 2006
 
 
 
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