The Species Which is Not One: Evolutionary Theory, Sexual Difference, and the New Humanism
Soltysik Monnet Agnieszka.
The paper examines recent advances in evolutionary theory, and particularly Evolutionary Psychology, from the point of view and concerns of the humanities. The relationship between these two disciplines has often been fraught, but now some Evolutionary Psychologists are calling for the assimilation of the social sciences and humanities into sub-disciplines of the new evolution-driven science. The first part of the essay discusses the specific challenge posed by Evolutionary Psychology to the reign of constructionism in the humanities, and the possible implications and usefulness of the universalist model of the mind proposed by Evolutionary Psychology. The potential emergence of a new kind of humanism based on recent scientific research is one of the larger themes of this first part of the essay. The second part deals with a more specific but no less contentious subject, the theory of sexual difference produced by Evolutionary Psychology and its implications for feminism, gender studies, and the humanities in general. Here I examine some of the different positions within the Evolutionary Psychology community, and analyze some of the assumptions and rhetorical strategies adopted by scientists and their popularizers. I conclude by noting that the relatively new discipline of Evolutionary Psychology has by and large replaced psychoanalysis as the source of popular psychology, and is well on its way to dominating the academic and scientific fields dealing with human behavior and cognition. We in the humanities ignore these developments at our peril, and would do better to engage with and reflect on this issue.
Soltysik Monnet Agnieszka (Switzerland)
Department of English
University of Geneva
Born in Poland and educated in U.S. Bachelor's from UCLA and Ph.D.'s from University of California, Irvine and University of Geneva. Interested in American literature and culture, gender studies, the Gothic genre and film theory.
(Virtual Presentation, English)