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In the Pigeon’s Eye. Evolution, Heredity and Culture (Dans l’œil du pigeon)

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Original Language: French | 232 pp. | October 2016

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Nordic countries and English (USA) rights.

Rights Sold: France (Le Pommier).

ESSAY

A dogma that for a long time ruled the social sciences: wanting to find the biological bases of human behaviour wasn’t only a mistake but also a dangerous illusion that could lead to the worst eugenic and fascist aberrations. For the ethologist Luc Alain Giraldeau, it’s exactly the opposite: the more we study nature, the clearer it becomes that it can never be used to justify what’s allowed or forbidden. To agree to be Darwinian is to accept a truth with serious consequences: the concept of good and bad cannot on any account come from nature. Biology can be useful without necessarily being deterministic, blind, and automatic. Biology is absolutely compatible with liberty. It just remains for us to embrace what really distinguishes us from the animal world: the responsibility of deciding acceptability and unacceptability.

This book tells of the strangeness of life, that which differentiates it from inertia, the blind consequences of evolution and the emancipation of genes produced at each major step of the invention of life, the multicellular organism, sexual reproduction, animal societies and culture. Biology belongs to no one, especially not to biologists. It’s a culture, an index to decode reality. The view it has developed of living things is revealing, intriguing, worrying, frustrating, and stimulating. It would be a pity to reserve it solely for the world of natural sciences and academia.