With chapters on: Rachel Carson, Charles A. Coulson, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Arthur S. Eddington, Albert Einstein, Ronald A. Fisher, Julian Huxley, Pascual Jordan, Robert A. Millikan, Ivan P. Pavlov, Michael I. Pupin, Abdus Salam, Edward O. Wilson
Edited By Nicolaas A. Rupke
MARK STOLL Edward Osborne Wilson (b. 1929) 333
Edward Osborne Wilson: The Gospel According to Sociobiology MARK STOLL In 1975 erupted perhaps the most vitriolic and most public scientific de- bate of the twentieth century, the sociobiology controversy. The cause of the uproar was a large, powerfully argued book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, by a shy, introverted entomologist, Edward 0. Wilson (b. 1929) of Harvard University. It had hardly appeared in the bookstores when a dramatic letter appeared in the New York Review of Books. Signed by a group of people calling themselves the Sociobiology Study Group, among them Wilson's Marxist Harvard colleagues Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) and Richard C. Lewontin (b. 1929), the letter linked socio- biology with "biological determinist" theories that had "provided an im- portant basis for the enactment of sterilization laws and restrictive immi- gration laws by the United States between 1910 and 1930 and also for the eugenics policies which led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany" (quoted in Segersträle 2000, 14). In the ensuing months Gould, Lewontin, and others would relentlessly attack sociobiology for supposed rightist political implications. To many, the very term "sociobiology" echoed the Nazi pseudo-science Sozialbiologie. A political liberal himself, Wilson later admitted he was completely unprepared for a leftist assault associating his theories with eugenics and gas chambers. This was all the more the case due to the fact that, while he did have an ideological target in mind, it was not Marxism; it was relig- ion — conservative Protestantism in particular. In a series...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.