|The Human Genome Display at the Smithsonian Museum|
Photo by Jim H.
Noun. Mid-19th century.
1. = Electrobiology (b). rare. Only in M19
2. The interpretation of human life from a strictly biological point of view. E20
Why are you interested in words? Specifically, why are you interested in words? Many people aren't, of course, and would struggle to think of a more boring thing to be interested in. So why are you? Did you choose this interest? Did your parents or culture nurture it? Come to think of it, why am I interested in words?
To a proponent of biologism (also known as biological determinism), the answer is rather simple (even if the mechanics behind it are not): I am simply a product of my own biology. My genes, DNA and biological makeup determine the way I am, from my temperament to my tastes to my physical characteristics and, crucially, even the choices I make. While societal influences may play a part, these are most definitely secondary to the overriding and and inescapable biological 'me'. Therefore, I was always going to be interested in words; my biology dictates it.
In the ubiquitous "nature vs. nurture" debate, biologism is roughly synonymous with the nature aspect, although the theory itself posits that nature is by far the dominant factor. As such, it is a deeply uncomfortable theory for many, threatening as it does the sacred notion of free-will and, in the past, being used to justify such heinous practices as eugenics. It also undermines the idea of personal accountability: if a serial killer could show that it was his inherent biology that made him commit murder rather than any personal choice, how could he be held personally accountable for his actions?
The nature vs. nurture debate continues, as does the research into what factors determine someone's character, attributes and decisions.
Do you have any thoughts on free will? Do you believe in biologism?
Do please leave your comments below (although, presumably, your brain chemistry has already decided whether you will or not).