More Things in Heaven and Earth, by Stephen Jay Gould.

This article is a really nice short introduction to the work of one of the main critics of evolutionary psychology, Stephen Jay Gould. He was a biologist, disagreed with the “evolutionary agenda”, which seeks to explain most or all human behaviour in evolutionary terms. He regarded the extreme evolutionary position as overly deterministic. He did not dismiss evolutionary psychology, but instead regarded it as a partial explanation, along with environmental and cultural factors.

This article contains a nice introduction to Gould’s concept of the spandrel, which is something that you really need to know about if you are interested in philosophy or the psychology of religion.spandrel

This other articles in this book are less readable and less informative, but might be worth a look if you are interested.

“The task of evolutionary psychology… turns into a speculative search for reasons why a behaviour that may harm us now must once have originated for adaptive purposes.”

More Things in Heaven and Earth, in Alas, Poor Darwin ed Hilary Rose and Steven Rose.


Published by


I teach psychology at Graveney School in Tooting, London.