…by Jonas E. Alexis
I have read that Kevin MacDonald is writing a book to be entitled, Western Individualism and the Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future. I hope he will take some time to clearly and exhaustively address the internal contradictions the Darwinian paradigm have perpetuated because I was quite disappointed with the way he responded to the metaphysical issues that were posed to him, first by E. Michael Jones and then by yours truly.
Back in 2012, MacDonald told Jones that his moral sense “is intimately tied up with evolutionary thinking.” To which Jones responded: this is “preposterous. It is impossible to derive the moral order from biology much less evolution…” Darwin, MacDonald’s intellectual great-grandfather, would almost certainly agree with Jones here. Darwinargued in the Descent of Man that
“If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering.”
The Edinburgh Review quickly saw the logical conclusion which directly followed from Darwin’s thesis here. It declared then that if Darwin was right, then:
“most earnest-minded men will be compelled to give up these motives by which they have attempted to live noble and virtuous lives, as founded on a mistake; our moral sense will turn out to be a mere developed instinct…If these views to be true, a revolution in thought is imminent, which will shake society to its very foundations by destroying the sanctity of the conscience…”
Science writer Robert Wright agrees that Darwin’s Descent of Man “has indeed sapped the moral strength of Western civilization” and replaced it with something else.
“Sympathy, empathy, compassion, conscience, guilt, remorse, even the very sense of justice, the sense of doers of good deserve reward and doers of bad deserve punishment—all these can now be viewed as vestiges of organic history on a particular planet. What’s more, we can’t take solace, as Darwin did, in the mistaken belief that that these things evolved for the greater good—the ‘good of the group.’ Our ethereal intuitions about what’s right and what’s wrong are weapons designed for daily, hand-to-hand combat among individuals. It isn’t only moral feelings that now fall under suspicion, but all of moral discourse.”
If these writers are right, then where does MacDonald fit in? Does he agree with Michael Ruse when Ruse says that “Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth”? Does he believe that ethics, as his mentor E. O. Wilson opined, is an illusion?
Well, he has not really fleshed his thesis out comprehensively. But in an excerpt from his upcoming book, he tells us that “Nurturance/Love is an evolved system linked to specific brain regions coding for positive feelings in response to being loved and nurturing others.”
This is not a scientific theory, though many scientists subscribe to it. As we shall see briefly, it is philosophically incoherent and intellectually unnecessary. MacDonald’s view here is also similar to what Francis Crick wrote in his book The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul. Crick declared axiomatically:
“The Astonishing Hypothesis is that ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”
Richard Dawkins makes the same assumption when he argues that the universe is “just electrons and selfish genes,” therefore “meaningless tragedies…are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune.”
Daniel Dennett agrees. Human beings, he says, “are made of mindless robots and nothing else, no non-physical, non-robotic ingredients at all.”
Robots, by definition, do not have consciences and do not act as free agents. External entities always tell them what to do and they act on those orders. Again jumping off his premise that we are all robotic machines rather than free agents, Dennett argues that consciousness itself is an illusion.
Andrew Newberg and Eugene D’Aquili write that:
“As the human brain evolved something remarkable happened: The brain, with its great perceptual powers, began to perceive its own existence, and human beings gained the ability to reflect, as if from a distance, upon the perceptions produced by their own brains. There seems to be, within the human head, an inner, personal awareness, a free-standing, observant self. We have come to think of this self, with all its emotions, sensations, and cognitions, as the phenomenon of mind.”
The brain “began to perceive its own existence”? Isn’t that a blatant contradiction? Newberg and D’Aquili are neurologists, therefore they should be able to provide the mechanism supporting such an extraordinary statement. Yet they provide no such evidence. In fact, they admit:
“Neurology cannot completely explain how such a thing can happen—how a nonmaterial mind can rise from mere biological functions; how the flesh and blood machinery of the brain can suddenly become ‘aware.’”
Moreover, if “Love is an evolved system linked to specific brain regions,” as MacDonald believes, then MacDonald is in deep trouble because he doesn’t really love his wife—his brain does. As philosopher Nancey Murphy and psychologist Warren S. Brown have rightly pointed out,
“Neurobiological reductionism has to be false. If not, then what may appear to be a product of rational processes must instead be the consequence of causal processes in the brain. If this is the case, then ‘arguments’ for neurobiological reductionism are not in fact arguments but mere noises.”
If Love and joy are “evolved systems,” and if the brain itself is just a cosmic accident, then how can we even trust our thought processes? As Murphy and Brown proceeded to say: “If humans are physical systems, and if it is their brains (not minds) that allow them to think, how can it not be the case that all of their thoughts and behavior are simply the product of the laws of neurobiology? How can it not be the case, as the epiphenomenalists argue, that the mental life of reasoning, evaluating, deciding is a mere accompaniment of the brain processes that are really doing all the work?”
If MacDonald is right about love and the brain, then he is essentially undermining his own mine precisely because he does hold that Jewish subversive movements have weakened much of the political infrastructure in America and elsewhere. In Fact, MacDonald has an entire section in his widely read book The Culture of Critique entitled, “The Fall of the Anglo-Saxons.” That particular section indicates that whenever “the new avant-garde ‘ethnic” community” perpetuates its agenda, then the WASP ruling class suffers greatly. MacDonald writes,
“This was not an imaginary or quasi-ethnic community but an actual community that had as its background a cohesive group of intellectuals dominated by people who were not only Jewish ethnically but also identified as Jews and were motivated at the psychological level by typically Jewish fear and loathing of Anglo-America as the culture of an outgroup. And, at the end of the day, this assault on Anglo-America furthered Jewish goals in displacing Anglo-Saxons as a dominant elite.”
Well, what’s the fuss if the behavior is genetic and that things like love or justice are just chemical process of the brain? Can one seriously condemn the behavior?
Nobel laureate Sir John Eccles once noted that the brain is “a machine that a ghost can operate.” In other words, the brain cannot think on its own. The real person inside does the thinking, and tells the brain what to do. Hence the old saying “Use your brain,” not “Let your brain use you.” However, because reductionists do not want to admit that man is more than a physical entity, they are trapped into believing that the brain does their thinking. Moreover, when they are confronted with requests to provide evidence for this theory, they have no answer.
So MacDonald does seem to agree with the current thinking among Darwinists and reductionists that morality evolves. I have said in the past that Kant would have had a difficult time trying to understand what these people are attempting to say precisely because the idea itself is philosophically incoherent and logically contradictory. One can say that this was one reason why Darwin himself could make neither heads nor tails of Kant’s Metaphysics of Ethics. In fact, Darwin admitted:
“It has interested me much to see how differently two men may look at the same points, though I fully feel how presumptuous it sounds to put myself even for a moment in the same bracket with Kant—the one man a great philosopher looking exclusively into his own mind, the other a degraded wretch looking from the outside thro’ apes & savages at the moral sense of mankind.”
Darwin later quoted Kant to buttress his own ideas that a sense of duty itself is biological. By this time, Darwin began to use “science” to smuggle irrational and incoherent ideas into the West. According to historians of science Peter J. Bowler and David Knight, Darwin
“was trying to turn morality into a branch of biology through the proposal that our instinctive behavior can only be understood as a product of natural processes that have adapted us to a particular way of life based on the family unit as a means of raising children.”
Darwin’s intellectual children and what Adrian Desmond has referred to as “the Darwin Industry” are still clinging to biology in order to explain morality, a philosophically vacuous enterprise that always locks them into an intellectual mumbo jumbo.
In short, will Kevin MacDonald explain these issues in a rational and logical way? Will he be able to do what Darwin and his children fail to explain? Or will he continue to assume one thing after another without even bothering to respond to some of the blatant contradictions that have been proposed to him? We are taking his upcoming book very seriously, and we all hope that he will take some time to address the fundamental issues. In response to Nathan Cofnas’ critique of The Culture of Critique, MacDonald posits quite rightly that
“Academics want their work to be taken seriously, and honest academics value the rough and tumble of academic debate. But what I got was silence, or comments like that of Steven Pinker, who is listed in the Acknowledgements section of Cofnas’s review, saying that it was below the threshold of academic interest—and that he hadn’t read it.”
I don’t think Cofnas is a serious critic of what MacDonald has written in The Culture of Critique. That’s why MacDonald has been able to demolish Cofnas’ arguments with little mental exercise. The fact is that Cofnas and others fail to challenge MacDonald on the main issues that post beneath his ideological substratum, and again we are inviting MacDonald to offer rational and logical explanations for some of the things he has said about morality and love thus far. MacDonald wants “to keep” his ideas “out there so people could judge for themselves.”
Well, we are doing exactly that, and we are taking some of MacDonald’s fundamental principles to task. No name calling, no ad hominem attack or politics. Just good old fashion rationalism. If he cares to address some of these issues, then we will concentrate on the arguments and counterarguments.
-  Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 73.
-  Quoted in Robert Wright, The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 327-328.
-  Ibid., 328.
-  Michael Ruse, The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), 262, 268-269.
-  Michael Ruse and E. O. Wilson, “The Approach of Social Biology: The Evolution of Ethics,” James E. Huchingson, ed., Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1993), 310.
-  Kevin MacDonald, “The Role of Empathy in Moral Communities: Altruism—and Pathological Altruism,” Occidental Observer, March 18, 2019.
-  Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 3.
-  Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 132.
-  Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves (New York: Penguin, 2003), 2-3.
-  Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained (New York: Little, Brown, 1991).
-  Andrew Newberg and Eugene D’Aquili, Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (New York: Ballantine, 2001), 32.
-  Ibid.
-  Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown, Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), v.
-  Ibid., 3.
-  Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (1st Books Library, 2013), 425.
-  Sir John Eccles, The Neurophysical Basis of Mind (New York: Oxford University Press, 1953), 285.
-  Quoted in Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2002), 297.
-  Ibid., 342.
-  Peter J. Bowler and David Knight, Charles Darwin: The Man and his Influence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 183.
-  Adrian Desmond, The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine, and Reform in Radical London (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).
-  See for example Frans de Waal and Stephen Macedo, Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves (New York: Penguin Books, 2003).
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.