Monday, June 12, 2006

Gould's use of "evolution"

Although I agree content wise with Gould's assertions from our reading on the Cooperstown myth, I do not believe his continual use of "evolution" to describe the invention of baseball is accurate. Darwin's Theory of Evolution, as I understand it (very basically), is that species adapt to their surroundings and change over time. Do societies, and the traditions they create, behave in this same way? Personally, I do not think so. Many social scientists, anthropologists, historians, and other scholars the past century or so have tried to apply the natural laws of evolution to society in order to better understand how mankind changes over time. They try to make it into a hard science, which it is not. They make a systemization of how societies behave. I believe that traditions come out of individuals and their actions, within their specific historic and cultural contexts, not larger social evolutionary mechanismsm which ignore individuals. My anthropology Professor last semester said that she believes that Darwin had a detrimental effect on anthropology, because all the scholars were trying to apply evolutionary laws to societies, which couldn't be done. Evolution is a wonderful thing in the study of biology, not so good for the study human society.

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