Battle Cry: Professor Tim Ingold on evolutionary psychology

September 27, 2017

The furore around a memo written by Google engineer James Damore, which argued that the relative paucity of female engineers could be explained in part by biology, brought the field of evolutionary psychology (EP) to wider public attention. EP seeks to identify the psychological traits that were adaptive in our evolution, forming part of ‘human nature’, and has been used to explain everything from gender differences to our propensity to eat unhealthy food. But critics argue EP is reductive and dehumanising. Should we reject an evolutionary perspective simply because it throws up some uncomfortable conclusions? Can evolution really explain modern psychology when culture and language appear to be changing at an unprecedented rate?

In this edition of Battle Cry, Max Sanderson talks to Professor Tim Ingold, who offers a critical analysis of evolutionary psychology. Professor Ingold will be speaking at the debate From gender to empathy: what can evolutionary psychology tell us? at the Battle of Ideas 2017 on 28 & 29 October at the Barbican in London.

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Battle Cry: Cathy Young on the rise of the alt-right

September 20, 2017

Cathy Young, contributing editor at Reason magazine and columnist for Newsday, talks to Max Sanderson about the recent political phenomenon of the alt-right. Who are they? Where did they come from? Why has the alt-right become popular and what does it stand for?

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Who do you think you are? Autonomy, authenticity and the emergence of identity politics

September 1, 2017

A lecture by Dr Tim Black at the Institute of Ideas event The Academy 2017.

Authenticity has become one of the defining ideals of the modern world. It is the quality we are meant to demand in that which we consume; a value to be opposed to all that is ‘fake’, or ‘phoney’, or ‘artificial’. Above all, it is what an individual is meant to aspire to be - true to one’s self, self-actualising, self-expressing. Authenticity today has an almost ethical force. It underpins identity politics, legitimises transgenderism, and informs the ubiquitous demand for often legal recognition and informal respect. But what does its elevation say about the condition of modernity? What is its historical and conceptual relationship to ideas of freedom and autonomy? And to what extent is it really possible or even desirable, as Shakespeare’s Polonius insisted it was, to be true to thine own self?

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