fall/winter, '06-07 , no. 8


A Theory of Fitness

Taijitu, the traditional symbol representing the forces of Yin and Yang


by Alice Andrews




That estrogen is love
and testosterone is power.
That yin and yang exist
in a socially constructed, naturally and sexually
selected, epigenetic cosmos.
if I were
If I were a man with about 20 times more T (testosterone)  than I have and a smaller
corpus callosum
Maybe this would be formatted differently
and I’d write it differently
and it would go in the discourse section
I’d put it there
This is not a poem.
This is not a blog.
It’s close to a story.
And  discourse.
This is a theory
A theory that can’t be taken seriously
Not that I’m Rosalind Franklin here

Oh most certainly not

But still

It is serious

But the medium is the message

And the medium is the signal

And you are just not able

To decode it as serious

as left-brain stuffs

In the book

you will take this seriously

well, more.

The book’s An Evolutionary Mind.

On Amazon CA it has the original cover that the publisher’s designer made.

And here’s the one I designed

and which they’ve remarkably approved.

Go ahead and judge them. Can one judge a book by its covers?

But first look at my dichotomies.

They will prime you.

Can you see the two worlds a bit?

Apollinian /     Dionysian

Individualist /  Collectivist

Western /        Eastern

Male/              Female

Rosalind Franklin was the British scientist who made important contributions to the structure of DNA, yet do you know her?

Separate from/           Apart of

Left brain /                Right brain

Autonomous /            Dependent

Analytical/                 Holistic

Goal-directed (self) /   Relational (other)

Self over other /         Other over self

Real love and power cannot exist simultaneously.

To love is to give over. It is to feel the other. To feel for. Where does power or ‘will to power’ exist here?

Positivist /             Relativist    

Compartmental /    Synthetic

Objective /             Subjective

I propose (What would a man say? Not “propose.”)

Just this.

The more E (estrogen) one has, the more honest with self

and able to detect

truth and lies in others,

better ToM (theory of mind),

better memory, more empathy, mirror neurons,

better at reading faces, also more depressed (because ‘truth is ugly’ and often sad).

One reality /     Many realities

Dominant /      Submissive

Rigid /             Flexible

Aggressive /     Docile, Peace-making

Mania/            Dysthymia

The more T one has, the more rosy-tinted and self-deceptive one is.

Hence ability to be risk-taker and bold,

inferior memory, inferior ToM,

less empathy, more self-deceptive

and less able to detect lies and truth in others,

not as good at reading faces. Happier.

Selfish /            Selfless

Fission /           Fusion

Assertive /        Responsive

Explicit /          Intuitive

Reason /          Emotion

Boundaries /    No boundaries

Yang /            Yin

Logos /          Eros  
Will-to-power /Will-to-cooperate/love

Divide/           Merge

Ego /              Empathy

Competitive /   Cooperative, Supportive

Testosterone /  Oxytocin

Dopamine /     Serotonin

Agonic /          Hedonic

Reptilian /       Limbic

Hierarchical / Affiliative

Self-deceptive/ Honest w/self

Lies/              Truth
Narrative/       Non-narrative

Diachronic /    Episodic


When women are in high reproductive years,

with high E (a marker for fertility and fecundity)

their need to suss out

signals of real investment and commitment is critical.

Their need for truth is high.

For men, being self-deceptive about women's desires, intentions

is adaptive—related to issues of error management theory

and notions of 'courtesy smile'.

Self-deceptive, positive outlooking men

leave more genes.

As women get older, E wanes

and according to some, unmasks T.

Some believe T may even rise. 

As a bioprogram or life-history event,

this would cause females to change strategies.

The barroom closing effect:

less reproductive years left,

therefore more self-deceptive about self and others,

less able to suss out honest signals of investment from potential mates.

This would be adaptive, reproductive-success wise,

as would be

being less self-deceptive

during the earlier high E phase.

This "theory" also corresponds well with Simon Baron-Cohen's understanding

of T and autism—the extreme-male brain theory.<




Alice Andrews (with philosophy and psychology degrees from Columbia University) teaches psychology with an evolutionary lens at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she is helping to implement an Evolutionary Studies program modeled on David Sloan Wilson's EvoS program at SUNY Binghamton. She is an editor and writer (books and magazines), and was the associate editor of Chronogram from 2000-2002. She is also the author of Trine Erotic, a novel that's been used in various college courses nationwide because of its exploration of evolutionary psychology. Alice is currently working on a book (based on her essay with the same title, published at Metanexus) called An Evolutionary Mind (to be published as part of Imprint Academic's series: "Societas: Essays in Political and Cultural Criticism"), and plans to begin writing another novel soon.

 Copyright © 2006   Entelechy: Mind & Culture. New Paltz, NY. All rights reserved.