Biological Determinism Essay, Research Paper
1. According to the author of the article “All in the Genes?”, there is no
intrinsic causality between genetics and intelligence. The author analyses
different aspects of biological determinism, and supplies many examples, which
illustrate aspects of this problem that are being discussed since the time
when these ideas became popular. He does not agree with biological determinist
that the intellectual performance of a person depends on genes inherited from
his parents. There are a lot of different theories about intellectual
capabilities. All these theories reflect different points of views, depending on
the period of time the authors of these theories lived.
The author argues for the theory that in the nineteenth century ,
artificial barriers in social hierarchy prevented people from achieving higher
intellectual performance. In the end of XX century, in most places these
barriers were removed by the democratic processes, and nothing artificial can
stand between the natural sorting process and social status of the people. These
changes can not be considered as historical because the age of democracy is just
two hundred years , and the time when inequality between classes and between
people was a natural situation is almost as long as the history of the world .
The author insists that there is no connection between environmental
differences and genetics. In support of his idea the author state that any
Canadian student can perform better in mathematics than some ancient professors
of mathematics. The author comes to the conclusion that changes in a cultural
environment are the main factor that determines level of intellectual
performance, not inherited combination of parent’s genes . He argues that
genetic differences that appear in one environment may easily disappear in
another. A theory that twins were raised in different social conditions will
have the same level of intellectual performance because identical genetics
constitution was used by the ideologist of biological determinism. The author
rejects this theory because from his point of view, all these cases cannot be
considered as always reliable on a close look, in most cases, twins were
raised by the members of the same family or in other words, not in a diametrical
opposite level of society. The author believes that there is no convincing
measure of the role of genes in influencing human behavioural variation.
During the argumentation of questions of biological determinism, the
author supports his idea with numerous examples. He gives examples of supporters
of bio determinism and outlines that these examples are not reliable. One of the
fallacies of biological determinism is the result of IQ testing. According to
some scientist only 20% of performance depend on environment and other 80%
depend on genetic variations. The author state that this is completely
fallacious because there is no connection between the variation that can be
ascribed as genetic differences and whether an IQ performance was affected by
environment and by how much. IQ measures little more than a person’ s ability
to take a test. Scores increase dramatically as a person is trained or
familiarised with a test. It means that an IQ level does not depend on the
intellectual abilities of parents but on the manner of studying and preparation
that can be considered as environmental changes.
For the author, there is a casual relationship between genetic and
environmental differences. He gives us an example of a fruitflies with more
bristles under the wing on the left side than on the right side. He says that
these differences are caused by random chances of cell during growth and
development and that every organism is a unique combination of genes and
environmental random chances. Another fallacy can be illustrated by the
statement provided by the author, which is built on the ideology of biological
determinism: “. . . if most of the variation in, say, intelligence among
individuals is a consequence of variation among their genes, then manipulating
the environment will not make much differences”. The author argues that the
proportion of variation in genes is not fixed properly, but one that varies from
environment to environment. So, the author of the article provides many examples
and rejects the fact that the intelligence is only affected by genes.
2.We can characterises the ideology of biological determinism as an
explanation of social, cultural and physical inadequacy among people based on
their inborn biological differences, which are passed along from parents to
children. Scientists who support the theory of biological determinism insist
that all people differ in their fundamental abilities because of some innate
differences, such as genetic constitution. This ideology of genetic inequality
states that there is a bridge between racial genetic constitution and the size
of the brain. Many scientists believe that the evaluations of people’s brain
sizes correspond to a person’s intellectual ability. Samples of skulls from
around the world confirmed Western European supremacy. The “scientists” in
pursuit of studies such as biological determinism always failed to clarify how
typical these skulls were of their respective populations. Simple selection of
skulls easily biased results, without a scientist necessarily realising his own
subjectivity. The theory of biological determinism appeared primarily to
legitimate forms of social inadequacy and control. Such ideas were the product
of industrial revolution, as well as cultural and ideological.
Some ideologies of biological determinism assert that sophisticated
behaviour is not taught, but develops automatically. There is a difference
between mankind and animal’s behaviour. For example, child learns how to speak
his first words under the influence of the parents or relatives, but a child
who is raised in an isolated environment cannot communicate in a normal way. We
can conclude from this example that a child begins to speak not because of
genetic variations of his or her parents, but because of the environment he is
located in. History knows the cases when a child was raised among animals, but
his human’s inherited genetic constitution did not influence his intellectual
The fact that so many oriental children do well seems to be more of a
nurture/environmental reason rather than a nature/genetic reason. Their parents
may have come from villages with little or no chance of an education. When they
migrate to the West, many, as a result of conflict such as the Vietnam war,
brought their ideologies with them. But they may not have the higher
intelligence as an innate ability, so therefore neither would their children.
This is an example to show that in some cases nature can affect the way nurture
rules your life, and it is completely controverts the ideology of biological
Another author’s example that contradicts the theory of biological
determinism is Wilson’s disease, which causes suffering from inability of
detoxify to cooper, which is an example of a genetic disorder. A few centuries
ago people with such behaviour could not be considered fully functional.
However, because of achievements of modern medicine, a treatment for these
genetic disorders was found, and just by taking a pill, such a genetic disorder
can be eliminated. Today we do not accept people with genetic inability
because these people are different from us, but tomorrow they will be full
members of our society.
3.From my point of view, biological determinism does not have a direct
bridge to social inequality and political control. In my opinion, intelligence
is shaped by a mixture of genes and environmental influence. The question, is
whether all people have approximately the same capacity to think and to work.
But it is not appropriate question to ask. The question should be, whether all
people are motivated by the same things? Given the cases consider, the answer is
“no”. This is an important distinction. Every one of us has different
surroundings which in one way or another shapes our perceptions of social
reality. Rules of the society where we live can tell each of us to act a given
way in certain situations. Our nature is our genetic endowment. It determines
our basic physical appearance: our hair and eye colour, etc. It determines the
types of emotions and motivations we can experience. We have different inner
responses to different environments. However, our genes depend on the
environment to fill in the missing details. So, if we are genetically
predisposed to become agitated in a crowded setting, but we never experience
such an environment, we will not have this genetic behaviour. We cannot tell
whether that people in our society are distinct from each other because of
those unexpressed innate differences. No two people are motivated by the same
experience; that’s why we are so different. There is no doubt that our
achievements in a society are predominated by our own contribution to any
business and how much effort we put to it. It requires 100 % contribution in
order to achieve the deserved result. In every layer of society we can
encounter cases when individuals are raised above the average because of the
level of their intellectual ability, but not because their parents were rich
One historical example that contradicts the theory of biological
determinism is a the world famous scientist Albert Einstein. Jewish immigrant
from Germany, he was not rich, his parents were not professors or politicians.
Because of his significant intellectual power, he became famous all around the
world. And even after his death, his brain was taken by a scientist who tried to
figure out what was the difference between him and the rest of us. Nothing
unusual in his brain was found. This specific example contradicts the theory of
biological determinism. Einstein’s innate capacities were not transmitted from
generation to generation biologically. Thus is his efforts made him famous and
acceptable through the world. Thus is his contribution to science could give him
a control and a power, if he desired it.
Yes, Einstein was in some way different from others. What can it be? If
we assume that all individuals were raised in the same environmental condition,
such as family, school and neighbourhood, than the differences between them and
others can be explained by the genetic constitution, but it still does not mean
that this genetic constitution was 100% inherited from their parents. From my
point of view, these genetic differences can be explained only by the random
combination of genes. I think it can not be explained by any logical way or by
genetic science but only as a result of play of nature . The best proof of
this idea can be that after all of successes in the field of genetic science,
there is still no any remedies that can let to produce smart children. Another
example that contradicts a theory of biological determinism, that we do not live
by our natural, instinctual, primitive way because we do not live, as primitive
animals do in nature. Civilisation is a subversion of nature. In a global
contest there is a huge amount of examples when people whose parents did not
have any money or power, achieved the higher level of power. For example
Napoleon, a son of the ordinary people, citizen of Corsica, just with the help
of his intellectual power he became the first person in the France. He did not
inherit any imperious qualities from his parents, but he manages to become an
imperator. We can say that his existence causes the death and starvation of
millions people during the wars that he had. What can be the best proof of the
power when person’s desire for control decides for people to die or to live?
History knows an example where it is not innate abilities bring people
to the power and control. A monster of the 20th century came to the power that
responsible for the World War II. Anything is known about Hitler’s sadistic
behaviour or harmful acts in his childhood. Hitler’s hate came from the fact
that he was an outsider who did not belong anywhere, who never found a safe and
secure place in a society. The environment he lived in, the unfairness of German
society, the crisis in his family made him mad and furious This is an influence
of a society made him a bloody criminal of the 20th century. Hitler’s
remarkable power as a speaker and the will to the revenge made him a very good
orator that helped him to lead the masses. Hitler and Napoleon had inner
responses in different ways to different environment. No one can assume that a
hunger for a domination and an authority came to them with their mothers’ blood.
Therefore, there is no bridge between biological determinism of innate
capacities and a desire of people with a power to invade and kill the innocent
population. Our genes encode only what they need to, to conserve genetic
material. The rest of the detail is left for the environment to fill in.
4.For thousands of years humans ask the question of their “human” nature.
They have attempted to find themselves in relation to the animal kingdom.
The quest for knowledge is universal in Frankenstein: It is well-known
that the scientific revolution of 17th centuries initiated a profound
intellectual upheaval in western thought that replaced the philosophical
universe of Aristotle and the Middle Ages with the new infinitary and
mechanistic universe of Copernican astronomy and Galilean-Newtonian physics.
And this new mechanistic universe dominated western thought until the early
years of the 20th century-shaping almost all aspects of the further development
of western culture and setting the stage, for the revolutionary scientific
developments of the present century.
The scientific revolution that resulted in the new mechanistic universe
of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton also resulted in an equally profound upheaval
in the development of western medicine. In Science and Literature in the
Nineteenth Century Mary Shelley’s theme of scientific interference with the
fundamental mysteries of life makes Frankenstein the prototype of numerous works
of science fiction. She creates the typical representative of her time.
Frankenstein is a great medical scholar, exaggeration of Shelley’s simple
student. A “Frankenstein Effect,” the suite of moral and ethical problems
encountered when man tries to improve our nature.
The monster, being a sort of matter duplication of Victor, has a
physical and psychic link with his creator. If the monster is wounded, Victor
also gets the same wound.
This transforms the story from its usual allegory of the relationship of
God and Man to one of the two sides of a single person’s personality.
I do think that Frankenstein’s monster can be considered as a product
of theory of biological determinism. Biological determinism states that
intellectual abilities are enclosed in us by genes inherited from parents.
The main idea of Victor Frankenstein, was a creation of some kind of
machine or robot, which, like we assume, does not have any genes background and
therefore, according to the theory of biological determinism, does not have any
intellectual future. Despite this assumption, a monster begins to show the sign
of the intellect, he tries to get knowledges, and it means that something going
on with him. This something changes his intellectual structure, shifting him
from the animal state to the human being. If we follow the ideas of biological
determinism, it should be nonsense: Monster does not have any intellectual
background. He does not even have parents.
But in fact, happened something opposite, according to the book, the
monster very much wants to stimulate his intellect and has a great desire for
knowledge. He eagerly listens the humans’ discussion and teachings and he revels
in finding some books: ”The possession of these treasures gave me extreme
delight; I now continually studied and exercised my mind upon these histories.
Just like his creator at the beginning of the narrative, he is thirsty for
knowledge and reads everything that he can lay his hands on.
The artificial man is put in a number of situations where one would
expect a human being to react in one way and a machine or construct in another .
The monster that Frankenstein creates has all of human society against him from
the start. Wee see Shelly’s intentions to show that monster and his behaviour
reflect the image of our society, where humans are not very kind to each other
and not to mention how they treat somebody who is not human or looks repulsive.
The monster or the people that he tries to be friend with and who consistently
refuse his offers of friendship on the basis of his appearance. We see the
author’s intentions to show comparisons between the monster and other people.
She illustrates the presence of human’s characteristics that are traditionally
thought to be defining characteristics for a monster.
The monster did very human thing when he risked his own life and saved
a young girl who has fallen into a rapid river. We see than a monster has very
negative impression about a society he meets, but despite of that, he has very
good intentions to contact a human race. However, the influence of a society
makes him depressed and dissatisfied with his life situation. “The feelings of
kindness and gentleness which I had entertained but a few moments before gave
place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal
hatred and vengeance to all mankind.” Having come this far, one might be
forgiven for wondering which is the most ”human” the monster or the people
that he tries to be friend and who consistently refuse his offers of friendship
solely on the basis of his appearance. Therefore, from author’s intentions and
Frankenstein motivations we can tell that the monster is a by-product of the
theory of biological determinism.