Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review (Dubos)

_______________________________________                         __________   

My current reading is “Celebrations of Life”, by Rene Dubos.
For this book, you need to understand “determinism.” 

In the book, determinism is a view we may contrast to Rene Dubos’s view, which is a view that I think could be called more open and humanistic. But the material for the view of diversity, in contrast to determinism, seems a harder case to make, which is a bit like saying that "diversity" is a harder book to open, compared/contrasted to "determinism," or (staying on the same subject of determinism for a moment) various strains of religious fundamentalism that all strive for unity in a given population.  
     This is so: There is not any “oness” (a substitute spelling might be “oneness”) in the argument for diversity. Diversity is a difficult condition to express. Determinism is different, so easy to express. You just say the name of your nation, religion, or cult: "I am a Muslim." Exposition over.
     To think deterministically (or with respect to unity) is to think in terms of one point of view. (To serve only a single cause for a single result.)
     We can also think of (or write about, and a few authors have...) the fact that there exist so many points of view. But that's harder.
     Writer Isaiah Berlin formulated both possibilities together in his exposition of the one and the many (called "fox and hedgehog"). In a democracy, we need books that expound both points of view, diversity and unity. But unity and diversity are not the same, in one very relevant sense.
     The problem here is that there are those who do not like democracy.

     There are, that is to say, very few democratic hedgehogs.
     Dubos has a scientific mind. With it he probes; he seems to dig out something from every corner. Even at that, though, there is something beautiful about the work, which is that he just wrote this for the hell of it. This is the one big difference with E. O. Wilson, whom I think of as Dubos’s opposite "other." And, naturally, Dubos mentions him in "Celebrations of Life," quite fairly and disinterestedly. And this big difference is this. When you get the later (E. O. Wilson) you get into the package some guy with a huge axe to grind, a huge idea that his ideas are right, and no one else's are. But you don't get that with Rene Dubos, and that's the difference.

__________________________________                     ___    

No comments:

Post a Comment