Life Beyond Genetics: Science and Power in the 21st Century: Talk by Jonathan Latham, PhD at Cornell University

Jonathan Latham will be speaking on March 22, 2018 at 7pm in Rockefeller Hall, Room 102, on the Cornell University Campus. The talk is free and open to the public. It is the first of the PEACE Talks series, sponsored by the Cornell Students for Animal Rights.

You can download a poster here:

Talk synopsis: The starting point for the talk will be the assertion that there is a key unappreciated distinction between Indigenous and Western thought and this distinction is the latters’ preoccupation with genetics. The genetic determinist orientation of Western thought grew out of the sedentist desire to inherit wealth and land in the fertile crescent. This desire developed into an obsession with genetics and lineage—which is very evident in the bible—to become a key attribute of the Judaeo-Christian religion. It was Plato’s “myth of the metals” incorporated into a religion, with all the disempowerment of the populace that that concept entails. Genetics was a key element to the spread of Christianity through Europe and elsewhere because genetic concepts enabled authoritarian political systems based on monarchy, patriarchy, nationalism, racism, as well as the inheritance of wealth, since each of these elements is premised on it. Much later, this same hereditarian fixation became transmuted into a scientific one. Most importantly however, the modern science of genetics is hardly more based on evidence than was its religious counterpart. In the final analysis, all organisms are systems. Organisms are thus not the product of genetic programmes and neither are genes master molecules. Therefore, it follows that science appropriated genetic theories of biological reproduction not because of evidence but for the reason that genetic premises were already so deeply ingrained in Western thought and Western power structures as to be unchallengeable. This thesis has important implications. First, that genetic determinism is the unappreciated driver behind much of modern political power and oppression. And second, since its premise is now readily disprovable, its disproof offers a potential route to redistributing social and political power.

You can download a poster of all the PEACE Talks here: