How to Explain Diversity: A Cultural problem
The history of humanity has shown that the influences of a select few, charting their ideas of what is right and wrong, pure or dirty, black or white may all influence cultures; but these principles do not follow a certain direction. Rather, with the continuance of culture through time, the principles have diverged human experience into thousands of different cultures. In Biology as Ideology, the argument of genetic determinism arises; ones genetic makeup and other biological factors are the main determinants of individual behavior. This theory is greatly reliant on a culture looking for a direct cause and effect relationship between the genetic makeup of humans and social ability. Like this belief, the Origin Myth in Malanowskis Magic, Science, and Religion explains how a certain Indonesian culture, namely the Trobrianders, explains their creation by using stories, experience and presentation. They argue there was an underworld world previous to life on Earth where social inequality already existed. Moreover, the channel that molds human behavior in Magic, Science, and Religion and Biology as Ideology as well, is seen to be internal; although the striking difference is that the Trobrianders rely on past events to establish truths in their lives while biological determinism finds truth by arguing genes determine cultural differences.
Both texts read that the creation of culture stems from psychological factors that are innate, but the important difference lies in why these myths were created and the cultural significance they hold. The concept of genetic determinism in Biology as Ideology is explained by how, We differ in fundamental abilities because of innate differences that are biologically inherited. Genetic Determinism argues that human genes cause inequality, in turn causing social clines and cultural diversity. Moreover, it tries to create a concrete definition of why there is cultural diversity among human beings. The Origin Myth performs a like function as well; It expresses, enhances, and codifies belief; it safeguards and enforces morality. The purpose of myth is very similar to the purpose of explaining Biological determinism. They both reason from human experience to establish cultural truth. They create a perfect world for themselves. Furthermore, Lewontin explains that we differ as humans because we were genetically trained to be unique by our parents. The struggle to define ones culture is relative to the past; Lewontin explains this by biological inheritance, while the Trobrianders explain by claiming their creation stemmed, from underground where men were organized to explain this. Again, they both create a perfect situation from their past to give truth and meaning to their culture today. Additionally, Biology as Ideology goes on to argue, there are certain inborn similarities among us all. But one must realize these innate similarities in both cultures are from an emic perspective.
The two texts are similar because one must understand the assumptions within each culture before one may understand the myths themselves. In Biology as Ideology, one must understand the nature of the genome before one can understand how the gene determines individual and social character. In the Origin Myths, most Trobrianders pass on stories explaining why things have came to be as they are; why they eat certain foods, worship certain gods, and admire certain animals. Without the context it remains lifeless. The Origin Myth and Biological Determinism are only significant if one can understand the past from which they were created. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand the context and myths before one can take them as truth. The context around the Myth Origin, and how the stories fits into their culture, is as important as the stories themselves; it is as pertinent in Biology as Ideology to understand the science before you can believe that genes are the cause of success. Understanding what is behind these cultural interpretations is important and makes these two texts quite similar. The reader cannot take for granted what is said in each text, but they must realize that the history of the myth, and the ancestors that created it, are of equal importance to the myth itself. In both cases, man has tried to explain his origin to better understand his purpose and history; in order to value everyday life. With this in mind, the importance and similarity of a hierarchal society parallels the two texts as well by explaining inequality.
Both texts explain the significance of a predetermined hierarchy which serves to explain the differences in culture and existence of inequality. Lewontin explains that we differ as humans because we were genetically trained to be unique by our parents. In Biology as Ideology it is noted, that human nature guarantees the formation of a hierarchal society. Because of these genetic differences in individuals it is innate that society will be a hierarchy. Like this view, Magic, Science, and Religion addresses the fact that different cultures were already hierarchal societies under ground and brought with them all their culture to continue it upon this Earth. The two concepts share a common idea that what one has as a human, in terms of cultural baggage, has been brought with them; it is internal. It has been transported from the past where the cultural inequalities were already defined. Both ideas agree that there were sects; people were different at the time of their creation. It was said that the differing tribes, brought with them all their culture, explaining that their underground creation was where their rank was determined. It was internal and the tribes had no way of altering the cultures they inherited. In both instances, history had a significant influence on the ideas surrounding creation. Although, one must consider the reasons why these differences in human genome and culture are significant.
Biology as Ideology explains human difference by claiming biology as the cause of culture; the Trobrianders Origin Myth explains humans are biologically equal, but differ in culture. The former argues that the differences in humans are internal; they are in our genes, our blood; the latter share the belief that this difference is internal as well. Although, it is clear the Origin Myth counter argues humans as being genetically different rather, they had distinctions of rank. The myths they create are an active force. Rather than determine their capacity in life, the myths are lived and guide them through life. On the other hand, genetic determinism describes people as having similar characteristics even though they stemmed from different cultures. Biological determinism takes aim at explaining genes to be what distinguishes you as better or worse off than your peer. This is similar to genetic determinism because differences are again associated through culture. Nations and races were said to be characterized by innate temperamental and intellectual differences. People varied because of their different abilities to think and different ways of going about everyday life. Again, they create a situation where everything was already perfect and organized. People simply arose from a large hole representatives of the four main clans. They have clearly created a myth that explains how they had cultural identity and meaning in the beginning.
In conclusion, the Trobrianders Origin Myth not only functions as a story of their creation, but it also provides the charter for life in which they live. Genetic Determinism explains that genes cause social behavior in order to explain and allow them to accept inequality. Both describe and form truths that explain difficult cultural problems that are best described as an active force by which they live. Both ideologies are similar in that they believe in an innate culture, but they argue from completely different premises to arrive at the same ends; both are charters for how they view the present World to be perfect. The Trobrianders have shown their environment has produced this difference while genetic determinism argues genes have made their environment. In one sense this makes these cultures very much alike. At the same time, it contrasts these cultures to have very different purposes and ideologies respectively.