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Day Schools and Sociobiology

BDITOIWlL NODS
OAY SCHOOLS AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
The main Radical Philosophy activity recently has
been the holding of day schools. Two have been held
so far this year, and a third is planned for the
autumn. We see these as serving an important
purpose. It has always been difficult, within the
Raiical Philosophy movement, to develop a real
sense of collaborative work, despite constantlyreiterated intentions to do so. We hope that by having
regular and frequent discussions of ‘work in progress ” we can begin to realise these intentions.

There are obvious advantages in the. day-school
format as comparei with large-scale two- or threeday conferences. Most obviously, day schools are
much easier to organise. Especially if they are held
in London, we can avoid the need for complex
arrangements for registration and accommodation,
and advance publicity can therefore also be kept
fairly simple. But there may also be disadvantages
in the format. Although attend.ance at the day
schools has so far been good, it has been noticeable
that a large majority of the participants have come
from the London area, and this suggests that the
format perhaps has the effect of excluding people
from further afield. It may be that people think it
worth their while to travel a considerable distance
for a three-day conference, but not for a one-day
meeting. We woul1 like to get people’s views on this.

We intend to go on holding conferences as well as
day schools, and we would like to get the balance
right. So please write to Radical Philosophy to say
what your preferences are, and to suggest any other
kin1s of meeting or activity which you think would
be useful.

The day school in November will be devoted to a
single theme, that of sociobiology. Why sociobiology?

There are many and good reasons, we think, for
devoting time to this ‘new’ theory. It has been the
subject of intense controversy, for critics have

charged it with racis m (for a discussion of the issues
here, see the article by Martin Barker in RP21).

Without doubt, some particular pronouncements by
sociobiologists have been racist. But how can a
theory which quite clearly arose out of a controversy
within evolutionary genetics be as ideological and as
dangerous as its opponents argue? Similar questions
arise about other political applications of sociobiology, such as its use to justify sex inequalities,
and the use of earlier versions of ‘biologism’ (e. g.

ethology) to legitimate forms of behaviour such as
aggression and competition.

The theory of sociobiology is therefore important
for a number of reasons. It challenges us to clarify
our view of ideol6gy, and of the intersections of
science ani. politics. It raises, in a new form, many
hoary old issues such as the fact-value distinction
(which is the sociobiologists’ standard defence
against charges of political bias). But on the positive
side, it presses on us the problem that philosophy
has so much ignored: the importance of biology.

For what is the use of a theory of mind which has
not taken into account the Significance of Darwinis m ?

If we reject sociobiology, we need an alternative
account of the relevance of human biology.

The morning session of the day school will be a
discussion of a representative work of sociobiology,
Richard Dawkins T book The Selfish Gene (Paladin
paperback). It will be assumed that people have
previously read the book, and the idea is that it
should provide a general framework and common
background for more particular discussions. In the
first afternoon session we shall divide into small
groups for discussion of specific topics (such as the
relations between sociobiology and racism). The
final session will be another plenary session in
which we shall get reports back from the small
groups and attempt to link them to one another and
to the morning’s general discussion.

“Working Papers” Collection

“Block” is the result of an initiative
taken by a group of artists and art
historians who believe that there is a
need for a journal devoted to the
theory, analysis and criticism of art,
design and the mass media.

Our primary concern is to address the
problem of the social, economic and
SubsCrlpllon

ideological dimensions of the arts in
societies past and present. Although
we appreciate that the direction of this
journal will be partly determined by
contributions. our intention is to
stimulate debate around specific
issues-which could include: Art &
Design Historiography and Education;
Visual Propaganda; Women and Art;
Film and Television.

Inland

Overseas

Airmail

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U:98

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£5.00

[US
SubSCriptIons should be sent to
Block
Art HIstory Office
Middlesex PolytechniC
Cat HIli
Cockfosters
East Barnet
Hertfordshire EN4 BHU

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Cheques should be made out to MIddlesex
PolytechniC

Contribullons to the journal WIll be welcomed but the
editors cannot accept any responsIbIlity for loss or
damage.

Block will be published three times a year

Michel Foucault: Power, Truth, Strategy 192 pp.

A dossier of translations, bibliographies and essays on recent
work by French philosopher Michel Foucault, who attempts to
locate the relations of power, truth and knowledge functioning
within strategies of contemporary culture. Dominant philosophical themes – marxism, semiology, theories of the subjectare questioned: “The history which bears and determines us is
war-like, not language-like; relations of power, not relations of
sense.” ($AUS5-50*)
Language, Sexuality and Subversion 208 pp.

Taking a critical distance from freudo-marxism, the essays
in this book question the politics of the recent move by
sexual radicals back towards the “Party” and the “Analysis”,
and imply a critique of radical engagement with two major
institutions of transmission, the media and pedagogical bodies.

($AUS4-95*)

*

Price from the publisher. Orders should be accompanied by prepayment (bank draft only) adding 80 cents per book for postage
and handling.

Feral books are available in Britain from Collets, Compendium, Dillons
(Cambridge) and Rising Free.

FERAL PUBLICATIONS
Box 83 Wentworth Building,
Sydney I}niversity 2006, Australia.

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