Saturday, January 30, 2016
Winter Speaker Series
"Art, Music, and Literature: Does Evolution Really Explain Everything?" Kenneth Miller
2 pm Newport Art Museum (76 Bellevue Avenue)
As Charles Darwin foresaw, contemporary science has confirmed that evolution really does explain the origin of species, including our own. But does it really explain everything else about human nature? Some advocates of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology have claimed that evolution’s ability to shape instinctive behavior accounts not only for the structure of human social institutions, but also for our tastes in music, art, and literature. They propose a kind of “consilience,” a coming together of knowledge around evolutionary principles that will render the humanities subservient to an all-knowing, all-explaining biology of human nature. From my own standpoint as a biologist and advocate for the public understanding of evolution, I will examine the actual science behind this movement and ask whether the humanities are indeed about to be overwhelmed by a rising tide of knowledge and understanding from the natural sciences.