How They are Healing Physics Envy in Biology

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    Hey Everybody!

    Check out my review of Ernst Mayr’s What Makes Biology Unique? (2004 Cambridge U P)

    He has a lot to say that can be useful in methods discussions for social and political science.

    Lets talk about it!

    Bill Kelleher



    How They are Healing Physics Envy in Biology



    Physics envy is a malady that distorts perceptions and understanding in political science today, according to Clarke and Primo.  On the assumption that Reason can heal this instance of misguided commitment in our profession, I review the last book written by the renowned biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005), which he intended as his final statement on the nature of biology. His clear thinking on the same malady in biology provides a therapeutic orientation from which we political scientists can learn much. Free read, safe download at,


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    Envy is an emotion which “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it”.

    Bertrand Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his or her envy, Russell explained, but that person also wishes to inflict misfortune on others. Although envy is generally seen as something negative, Russell also believed that envy was a driving force behind the movement towards democracy and must be endured to achieve a more just social system. However, psychologists have recently suggested that there may be two types of envy: malicious envy and benign envy—malicious envy being proposed as a sick force that ruins a person and his/her mind and causes the envious person to blindly want the “hero” to suffer; on the other hand, benign envy being proposed as a type of positive motivational force that causes the person to aspire to be as good as the “hero”—but only if benign envy is used in a right way. Envy and gloating have parallel structures as emotions.

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