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
- 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 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
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
- 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
- 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-
Who were the people who held the power and were superior?
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