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Why Aren't We All Happy Polygamists?

Modern culture is intrinsically polygamist.  The culture of sexual choice is precisely nothing but polygamy, polygamy without marriage, if you will.  We live in a culture of multiple sexual and romantic and marital partners.

According to the biologist's view, if we are indeed inherently polygamists, we should have never been as happy as we are today because modernity would seem to enable our real nature to express itself.  Instead, what we find is an incredibly powerful sense of confusion and conflict when people have these experiences.  They want polygamy on the one hand but they don’t on the other.  They feel also that it threatens or does not satisfy them.

Biologists are also unable to account for the great variation in those practices that we can observe, both among cultures and in historical terms.  They also make the claim also that there are strong distinctions between men and women in this regard.

Clearly what we see is that there are no distinctions and that both women and men, in fact, can as easily value monogamy or polygamy depending on the normative climate in which they exist.  So I have to say that I view evolutionary biology as being highly speculative, not empirical science.  I deal only with facts, and the facts show me that human nature is so variable and so malleable that it hardly makes sense to speak of it as something that determines, in a very clear way, our behavior.

60 Second Reads is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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