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Nurturing Our HumanityHow Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future$
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Riane Eisler and Douglas P. Fry

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190935726

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190935726.001.0001

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Evolution, Ideology, and Human Nature

Evolution, Ideology, and Human Nature

(p.19) 2 Evolution, Ideology, and Human Nature
Nurturing Our Humanity

Riane Eisler

Oxford University Press

If, as some evolutionary psychologists claim, we are inexorably driven by evolutionary imperatives of ruthless selfishness, it follows that we cannot solve problems such as violence and oppression. If genes trap us in nasty and cruel behaviors, there is no point in trying to build societies that are more humane. This chapter explores a very different evolutionary perspective that recognizes the human capacities for change and choice and emphasizes biocultural interactions over determinism. This emerging perspective on human origins and behavior hypothesizes, on the basis of much data, that the default tendencies in our species are toward prosocial helping and caring behaviors and concludes that, although we cannot create a world that is totally free of violence and cruelty, we can construct cultures with low levels of violence and oppression where our capacities for creativity, caring, and consciousness are allowed to develop and flourish. It points to a plethora of evidence—from ethnography, history, and psychology to genetics, neuroscience, and ethology—that provides a shock-and-awe set of counter-arguments to the assumption that selfishness and violence govern human nature (including what Darwin had to say about this) and uses the Biocultural Partnership-Domination Lens to show how gene-environment interaction differs in cultures orienting to either end of the partnership-domination social continuum. This chapter melds what we are learning about brain development and functioning with multiple avenues of scholarship to reveal otherwise invisible patterns that can help us move forward.

Keywords:   evolution, biocultural, Darwin, genetic determinism, ideological bias, interdisciplinary, partnership-domination lens, human nature, evolutionary psychology, social change

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