I am giving my first workshop on DNA and Life!
Title: What is Life? A workshop.
Every individual and every society requires a theory of life that organises their collective understanding of themselves and their surroundings. The dominant organising principle favoured by modern Western society is genetics. In this worldview, DNA organizes and controls all life: cells, organisms, ecosystems, and even society. As will be shown, this interpretation of life is factually incorrect. It also leads to perverse conclusions and public policies and the systematic sidelining of alternative possibilities and holistic worldviews. Among the most damaging manifestations of reducing life to genetics is social Darwinist thought: life as competition. Other manifestations include: fixations on inherited intelligence; on crop breeding over improving farming systems; on gene patenting (No patents on life!); on genetic contributions to human health; and racism. Ultimately, to foreground the genetic aspect of biology is to demean humanity and all lifeforms.
Without invoking or requiring any mystical or challenging scientific properties or concepts, this workshop will enable you to shed (and shred) this worldview. Participants will explore a more robust conceptualisation of life whose numerous practical benefits include a vastly enhanced understanding of the world and themselves. More than this, overthrowing the genetic framing of life is politically emancipatory, indeed, transformative. To understand why, we will explore how scientific preferences for a genetics-oriented worldview were never a historical accident, but rather a phenomenon with deep political roots. Participants will come to see that biology and political power have thus become co-dependent entities. They have together created a mythology around DNA intended to enhance and legitimate political authoritarianism. A key implication is that the reinvigoration of democratic thought and the rescuing of political power from elite domination are inseparable from the rejection of modern genetic mythology.