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Lecture #2 - Biological Determinism and Eugenics

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SOC 103
Kelly Train

Lecture #2 – Biological Determination & Eugenics June 25, 2012 1. What is an instinct? - Sigmend Freud – One of the most famous biological determinants of all time. Argued that you are your biology, nothing about you is socially constructed. Explained richness or poorness by your genetics. - But first – what is an instinct? o Something you are born knowing how to do, you know how to do it automatically o It is not socially constructed o Crying o Suckling - What is NOT an instinct? o Survival is NOT an instinct. Why?  Infants and toddlers LEARN what to fear, have no sense of “hot stove”  You have to learn how to survive o Mothering – mother-child attachment (Freud says that you know how to mother just because you have a uterus – false) o Sexual instinct 2. The process of evolution - These are all things that come up in Social Darwinism - 1861 – Darwin published his book called “Origin of the Species” o About how certain species survived and other died out o Adaptability o Experimented to find out – they were random and unplanned o Mostly interested in WHAT made certain species adaptable – looked at why dinosaurs had become extinct and single-cell organisms had survived for millions of years o Certain species were able to change and evolve over time to adapt 3. The human package a. Bipedalism & tool making - Gave us an edge of others – bipedalism allowed up to see greater distances, see our prey/predators - Tool making – facilitated hunting, allowed to make baskets etc. to carry food b. Meat eating - Supplemented diets - Social survival – meant you had to do it with other people, had to hunt together c. Systems of symbolization - Oral symbols and written symbols - Used to strategize, negotiate, hand information down to next generation d. Large and complex brain - Strategize, decision making,, problem solving, memory e. Control of sexuality - There was always sexual taboos (children were not to have sex with their parents) - The family is a unit of production, a.k.a. the family is an economic unit o Sexual taboos were necessary to ensure that the family as an economic unit was prioritized over anyone’s sexual desires/needs f. Sociability - You couldn’t survive on your own (needed help for hunting, trapping, collecting food) - Needed help to protect you 4. Biological determinism - Known by three names: o Biological determinism o Social Darwinism  Very different from Darwinism where he ran things without planning and without any assumptions  Social Darwinism begins by pre-determining who is more superior to others (the rich and successful, called the ruling class)  This was the dominate theory in Europe and North American between 1880- 1945  Who were the people who held the power and were superior?  White  Anglosaxon  Protestant  Upper class  Male  According to this theory, these people were obviously superior to everyone else. Now they had to explain why this made sense.  This is an order theory. Says that society is perfect, the problem is you. The reason you were poor or
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