Heredity: A Very Short Introduction
- Author: John Waller
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- ISBN: 9780198790457
The concept of heredity is fundamental to how we see ourselves and others. It goes far beyond the obvious continuity of physical traits across generations. We routinely ascribe similarities in personality, intellect, outlook, and aptitude between family members to what's passed down in sperm and eggs. The simple idea that children take after their ancestors has long been central to science and medicine and to the breeding of plants and animals. It has also been used for ideological purposes to impute innate differences in character and rationality between males and females and among different ethnicities and social classes. Slavery, colonialism, and genocide, the unequal treatment of women, and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few have been consistently rationalized in the language of heredity and 'natural' hierarchy.