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Biology is the highest form of culture

Biologjia duhet të kthehet në debatin publik në mënyrë të barabartë me filozofinë dhe me shkencat politike, e kjo duhet të kuptohet herët a vonë. Mendoni për Covid apo për ndryshimet klimatike, janë tragjedi biologjike. Asgjë në këtë botë nuk është vetëm një konstrukt social dhe kulturor, natyra është e para dhe ajo bën ligjin edhe kur ne e harrojmë atë.
Biology is the highest form of culture

The greatest living ethologist: Frans de Waal. It is controversial, controversial, genius. Meeting him is a way of calling into question many of our own certainties. With the book "The Bonobo and the Atheist" in 2013, he brought half the world into discussions on the connection between atheism and biology, while now, probably not at all tired of fights and the desire to surprise, he provokes again with the newly published book "Different ”, with discoveries in the animal world with the aim of illuminating something for humanity: the problem, contrary to what is usually said, is not to say that gender does not exist, but that it does exist and should not be discriminated against.

The thesis that runs through the entire book may seem controversial to those who do not come from the scientific world, but from the cultural world, from art, fashion, literature or design, all universes where it is taken for granted that gender is a social device and even dangerous, so the solution is gender neutrality, which de Waal from his naturalistic perspective cannot grasp.

Professor, current and complicated book. Let's start with a necessary question: the difference between sex and gender...
Very important! For many of my generation it was heresy just to discuss this topic, no one understood exactly what we were talking about until twenty years ago. They are very different "objects", sex being a feature that has to do with anatomy and so to speak, with the basic functioning of the living machine, something that is not at all related to secondary features that are not in the very fabric of this life , for the genitals but also for everything else that derives from the fact of having something and not having something else. While gender is related to habits, behaviors, performance, conflict resolution or family, community and erotic experiences, offspring or leadership. Let us say that sex is a state of ontological description, although in nature there may be infinite ambiguous cases, while gender is the atmosphere that that living body conveys and that makes it exist as well as an ethological unit, i.e. with a certain behavior. But in both cases biology plays a role, it is not at all true that gender is purely cultural or that it can be chosen or performed without regard to descriptive biology. This is pre-scientific nonsense, even though philosophy is full of these pseudo-debates.

So nature is still used to define culture? Isn't that a step behind, or am I misunderstanding?
No, biology is also culture, perhaps the highest form of human culture. The problem is that the focus of so-called gender studies is (often, not always) wrong, as is the whole issue of neutral names, of political correctness, of the need not to define and not to be defined. They are ignorant, albeit well-intentioned, statements that I obviously share because they are about a crucial moral battle for our time. In gender inequality, which is a big, serious and urgent problem, the problem is not gender, but inequality. Do you understand my change in perspective? It is not gender that should be eliminated or treated as a "race", not only because it cannot be eliminated, but it is something that should be treated for what it is: as a characteristic, not as something to be discriminated within a supposed normativity of things in nature. It's like discriminating against someone because they have a foot number of 38... There is nothing wrong if someone can change their gender, each case is specific, but when they want to change it, it is precisely because gender exists and is distinguished as in those cases when someone decides to wear size 40 shoes despite being a size 38. Of course, in the book I dwell a lot on the issue that many stereotypes are false, such as the fact that the male gender has the right attitude to command: but it is always ethology ( the study of animal behavior) that explains these lies. And that's why we need it. It's like discriminating against someone because they have a foot number of 38... There is nothing wrong if someone can change their gender, each case is specific, but when they want to change it, it is precisely because gender exists and is distinguished as in those cases when someone decides to wear size 40 shoes despite being a size 38. Of course, in the book I dwell a lot on the issue that many stereotypes are false, such as the fact that the male gender has the right attitude to command: but it is always ethology ( the study of animal behavior) that explains these lies. And that's why we need it. It's like discriminating against someone because they have a foot number of 38... There is nothing wrong if someone can change their gender, each case is specific, but when they want to change it, it is precisely because gender exists and is distinguished as in those cases when someone decides to wear size 40 shoes despite being a size 38. Of course, in the book I dwell a lot on the issue that many stereotypes are false, such as the fact that the male gender has the right attitude to command: but it is always ethology ( the study of animal behavior) that explains these lies. And that's why we need it. but when they want to change it, it is precisely because gender exists and is distinguished, as in those cases when someone decides to wear size 40 shoes despite having a size 38. Of course, in the book I dwell a lot on the issue that many stereotypes are false, such as the fact that the male gender has the right attitude to command: but it is always ethology (the study of animal behavior) that explains these lies. And that's why we need it. but when they want to change it, it is precisely because gender exists and is distinguished, as in those cases when someone decides to wear size 40 shoes despite having a size 38. Of course, in the book I dwell a lot on the issue that many stereotypes are false, such as the fact that the male gender has the right attitude to command: but it is always ethology (the study of animal behavior) that explains these lies. And that's why we need it.

Nëse sfidojmë strategjitë e zakonshme të menaxhimit politik të diskriminimit, atëherë si mund ta përkthejmë këtë në politikë apo në aktivizëm?
Studimi i biologjisë ndihmon. Nuk e them sepse kjo është tema që njoh më mirë apo se e mbaj veten me të madh, por për të shpjeguar. Bonobot janë biseksualë, ekzistojnë kafshë me disa gjini, ka shoqëri matriarkale, baballarë që kujdesen për të vegjëlit më shumë se nënat, edhe homoseksualiteti është i përhapur. Problemi është se i kemi dhënë krahë një barazimi të çuditshëm: gjini mashkullore = qenie dominuese, të keqe dhe për t’u eliminuar, ndoshta edhe heteronormativ. Janë pallavra. Gjinia asnjëherë nuk ndërton diçka që përkthehet në aparat moral, por ama kjo s’do të thotë se duhet eliminuar thjesht e vetëm se disa të marrë e kanë mbështetur këtë barazim. Në politikë duhet thënë dhe më pas të mbrohet strategjia se çdo gjini krijon një atmosferë e cila nuk përbën një normë etike, por ama gjinia nuk duhet të eliminohet... për më tepër që s’mund të eliminohet dot.

Natyrë apo jo natyrë, këtu më duket se qëllimi i studimeve të avancuara mbi gjininë është të ndryshojë natyrën njerëzore.
Po, por edhe një herë, cilën natyrë? Përpara se t’u referohemi diskutimeve filozofike, duhet të njohim mirë biologjinë. Për ta përsëritur, natyra nuk ndërton etikën. Përballë fenomeneve të vëzhgueshme, nuk mund t'i mbyllim sytë: do të ishte pothuajse mohim i Darvinizmit.

Në një prej kapitujve të librit tuaj ju thoni se gjininë, jo vetëm seksin, mund ta dallojmë nga fytyra,. E dallojmë edhe nëse presim flokët, heqim buzëkuqin etj. Nuk druheni se këto ide do të sulmohen nga komuniteti “queer”?
Shkenca është shkencë, dhe kjo që ju citoni është një studim shkencor që buron nga praktika dhe nga shumë publikime. Nuk është as e bukur e as e shëmtuar. Është thjesht reale. Ekziston forca e gravitetit, por kjo s’do të thotë se është gabim të fluturosh. Këtu ka humbur qëllimi. Nëse një subjekti X unë i tregoj shumë fytyra, statistikisht marr më shumë të dhëna për gjininë. Edhe në rrugë kështu ndodh, sepse njerëzit e ndajnë botën pak a shumë në mënyrë binare. Kjo s’është kontroverse, thjesht ekziston. Edhe kur themi “pa gjini” e bëjmë sepse e shohim gjininë por nuk duam ta shohim. E përsëris, problemi nuk është diferencimi biologjik por diskriminimi moral. Problemi nuk është gjinia, por si ne e diskriminojmë atë. Dhe nuk duhet ta diskriminojmë kurrë e këtu s’dua të kemi keqkuptime.

Çfarë roli merr ky libër kaq aktual dhe plot detaje aspak banale (dhe ndoshta ende për t'u diskutuar) mbi këtë temë?
Biologjia duhet të kthehet në debatin publik në mënyrë të barabartë me filozofinë dhe me shkencat politike, e kjo duhet të kuptohet herët a vonë. Mendoni për Covid apo për ndryshimet klimatike, janë tragjedi biologjike. Asgjë në këtë botë nuk është vetëm një konstrukt social dhe kulturor, natyra është e para dhe ajo bën ligjin edhe kur ne e harrojmë atë. Nga ana tjetër, të mësosh të ndryshosh gjërat, do të thotë së pari t'i njohësh mirë ato.

*Frans de Waal is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist, professor and scientific researcher at several universities in Europe. He is also a member of the Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of over 15 books and honored with many awards in Europe and the USA. The interview for Leonardo Caffo was translated into Albanian by Erjon Uka.