Tracing The Palaeolithic Origins Of World Mythology

Evening class

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Julien d'Huy

Tracing The Palaeolithic Origins Of World Mythology

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 18:45

The classic ‘Cosmic Hunt’ myth tells of how an animal is traced by hunters into the forest, where it escapes by becoming one of the constellations in the sky. Starting with this story, Julien d’Huy uses computer models and phylogenetic analysis to track the movement of mythic tales across cultures and continents. The ‘Cosmic Hunt’, together with tales of dragons and serpents, all show evidence of the migratory patterns of humanity dating back thousands of years.

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Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.

Next evening class

Chris Knight

Selfish Genes, Sociobiology And The Emergence Of Modern Darwinism
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

When Richard Dawkins' book 'The Selfish Gene' was published in 1976, it caused an outrage on the left. Marxists, feminists and others took the book to be a celebration of laissez-faire economics and competitive individualism. But when we look at the versions of Darwinism which had prevailed in the previous period, it becomes clear that 'selfish gene' theory represented a major scientific advance. Far from justifying selfishness, the new Darwinism explains in a convincing way why instincts of solidarity and generosity are commonplace throughout the natural world. Today, one of the major figures in human evolutionary theory is the feminist thinker and 'selfish gene' pioneer Sarah Hrdy, whose book 'Mothers and Others' explains how cooperative childcare was the critical factor which gave rise to our species. Hrdy's work represents a modern scientific vindication of the traditional Marxist theory, popularized by Frederick Engels, that early human kinship and family life was based on collective rather than individual parenthood. This talk will review the catalogue of misunderstandings which led the left across most of the western world to respond to a scientific controversy by tragically backing the wrong side.