chasing amy

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Wed Feb 10 20:15:51 PST 1999

>Charles: Trouble is that argument was not won except by a scientific
>investigation of race by anti-racists.
>Charles: I oppose pseudo-scientific anything. My political positions on
>race are based on scientific principles. Good politics are based on the
>truth. Any effort to build a politics of sexual orientation without
>knowing what it actually is , is likely to run into trouble in practice.

Charles, it's not a question of simply invoking scientific principles. It's a question of a critique of pseudo scientific methods as well as a question of how matters are best investigated in a scientific manner. For example, Vandermeer, a biologist, first recognizes the great historical diversity in homosexual behavior in various societies before arguing that a genetic determination thereof is most unlikely.

In the question of IQ studies, it's a question of whether the method by which heritability estimates are made by animal and plant breeders can be applied to the study of variance in the most complex behaviors in human society. That's the argument developed by Lewontin, Lerner, Rose and Sarkar who are not objecting to the scientific study of societies in their historical specificities or more specifically to the immorality of heritability estimates in the first instance but the mistaken assumptions in its application to human society. Given its inapplicability, then it is quite unethical to accept the conclusions derived therefrom, though again many of the touted policy implications do not in fact derive from a heritability estimate, even assuming the possibility thereof.

>Charles: All of historical materialism is rooted in the idea that all
>humans must engage in production , because they must eat, drink, sleep and
>fulfill physiological needs.

If by "rooted" you put the primacy on the "materialism" in historical materialism, you are syggesting a one sided interpretation. In The German Ideology Marx writes:

The first presupposition of all human history is naturally the existence of living human individuals. (Marx's note: the first *historical* act of these individuals, wherby they distinguish themselves from beasts is not that they think, but they begin *to produce their means of life subsistence.)* The first factual consideration to be advanced is thus the bodilyorganization of these individuals and their relatin which is thereby given to these individuals and their relation which is thereby given to the rest of nature...(Men)themselves begin to distinguish themselves from beasts as soon as they begin to produce their own means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their bodily organization. In producing their means of subsistence, men indirectly produce their material life itself..This mode of production is NOT to be regarded simply from the viewpoint that it is the reproduction of the physical existence of individuals. It is rather a definite kind of activity of these individuals, a definite way of expressing their life, a definite *mode of life* of these individuals. As the individuals express their life so they are. What they are coincides with their production, what they produce as well as how they producel Thus what the individuals are depends on the materials conditions of their production."


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