Go to contents

‘Ancient men’s hunting, women’s collecting is groundless theory,’ says Prof. Jang

‘Ancient men’s hunting, women’s collecting is groundless theory,’ says Prof. Jang

Posted July. 16, 2018 07:32,   

Updated July. 16, 2018 07:32


“Men hunted, and women collected food” is a hypothesis on division of labor in ancient times that was widely believed to be accurate in the academic community, but studies conducted after the 20th century have proven it is false. There is no archeological evidence whatsoever showing that men hunted and women collected food.

Jang Ha-sok, professor of Cambridge University and philosopher of science, said such a view is a collective fallacy of science in an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo at Ewha Womans University in Seoul on Thursday. All scientific knowledge under the current situation where male scientists far outnumber female scientists would inevitably be men-centered, he said.

Another example that he cited is “the nature of sperm and egg.” According to the professor, the biochemistry community has thus far described the woman’s egg as something passive that is designed to receive. It has judged that sperm is active and proactive. However, recent studies have found that the egg is designed to chemically “select” sperms. The gender roles that were created in society were thus reflected in sperm and egg.

“Social notion that males are active and females are passive were directly applied to science as well,” he said. “When closely examining biology and medical science wherein male researchers were dominating, we found a lot of such fallacies.”

Prof. Jang’s belief is that “scientific truth” can be differently interpreted depending on who the researcher is. It is for this reason that Jang has emphasized “Darwinism in science.”

“In science, it is true that women, African Americans, Asians and Latin Americans have been marginalized,” Jang said. “If researchers with diverse backgrounds look deeper into science from various perspectives, they will discover and gain a lot of things across society.”

“Ideally, scientists should mull over such a matter in research laboratories by themselves, but scientists are not trained to think about such a matter,” Jang said. “However, since science is a professional area to laypeople, it is a science philosopher’s role to serve as ‘bridge’ linking the two realms.

Ji-Hoon Lee easyhoon@donga.com