Symons: "Evolution of Human Sexuality"

From: Rebecca Dale (
Date: Tue Nov 18 1997 - 16:33:06 GMT

Quotes from Commentaries on Evolution of Human Sexuality

I thought these quotes would be useful in stimulating a bit of debate!

1. ^To some extent, however, my selection of data is a matter of
hunches and tastes^: Symon's was constantly criticised for omitting
data, and "selecting" it, therefore giving a biased account. However,
he was praised for attempting to include information about human
sexuality from such a variety of sources.

2. ^I know of nobody in the history of mankind who ever in fact gave up
his life for nine cousins or three brothers, but I do know of many
people who risked their lives for perfect strangers, or even enemies^
(A quote relevant to the seminar on altruism)

3. ^The sex differences in desire for sexual variety are the result of
biosocial interactions in which the individual responds to cultural and
social exigencies with an adaptively evolved innate bias modified by
development and learning^: this statement I find very hard to disagree
with. But I suppose one could say that culture, development and
learning are an indirect result of the effect of our genetic makeup.
N.B. the commentaries are riddled with this sort of criticism, yet
Symons does not respond to any of them.

4. ^What is the functional significance of the hymen?^

5. ^We know too little about human sexuality to force it into any
single framework^

6. ^Are we using what looks like scientific considerations to justify
our social prejudices?^: in other words are women violating natural
selection to love their work as they do their children?

7. ^Indeed, sociobiology does not contribute much to questions
regarding intent or free will. But neither does Symons^

8. ^How we define human uniqueness has much to do with the species and
studies we employ for comparison^: we can find an evolutionary
explanation in almost any scenario - is it just a self-fufilling

9. ^Evolution has in fact moved toward greater awareness and
self-control and not toward ^robot vehicles blindly programmed to
preserve the selfish molecules known as genes^

10.^Certainly, little boys get exposed to a lot of playground talk
about going out and screwing chicks, but they also get exposed to lots
of Judaeo-Christian moral talk about staying on the (sexually) straight
and narrow path. .... Why are the influences on the one side such a
failure (for so many) if indeed the genes are playing no role?^

11.^If males sexual response demands variety, then it is inconceivable
that marriage,jealousy and polygamy could ever have developed^

12. ^Natural selection acts against lethal traits - but cannot be used
as a principle to explain anything subtle about interpersonal or sexual

13. ^It is indeed too bad that genes can have the human motive of
selfishness while humans remain robots^

14. ^Has the ultimate-proximate distinction replaced that of the

15. ^Why has Western society outlawed all but monogamy?^

16. ^If the female orgasm is not an adaptation, why do human females
have such sensitive clitorises?^

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