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Nature, human nature, and human difference : race in early modern philosophy

Author: Justin E H Smith
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2015
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
People have always been xenophobic, but an explicit philosophical and scientific view of human racial difference only began to emerge during the modern period. Why and how did this happen? Surveying a range of philosophical and natural-scientific texts, dating from the Spanish Renaissance to the German Enlightenment, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference charts the evolution of the modern concept of race and  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Justin E H Smith
ISBN: 9780691153643 0691153647
OCLC Number: 930261838
Description: viii, 296 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: Acknowledgments ix A Note on Citations and Terminology x Introduction 1 I.1 Nature 1 I.2 Historical Ontology 2 I.3 The History of Science and the History of Philosophy 10 I.4 Aims and Outline 17 Chapter 1: Curious Kinks 24 1.1 Essence 24 1.2 Race and Cognition 28 1.3 Race without a Theory of Essences; or, Liberal Racism 32 1.4 Constructionism and Eliminativism 38 1.5 Natural Construction 47 1.6 Conclusion 54 Chapter 2: Toward a Historical Ontology of Race 56 2.1 False Positives in the History of Race 56 2.2 "Erst Spruce, Now Rusty and Squalid" 58 2.3 Race and Dualism 64 2.4 Conclusion 68 Chapter 3: New Worlds 70 3.1 "I Had to Laugh Vehemently at Aristotle's Meteorological Philosophy" 70 3.2 America and the Limits of Philosophy 72 3.3 Native Knowledge 78 3.4 Conclusion 90 Chapter 4: The Specter of Polygenesis 92 4.1 Libertinism and Naturalism from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century 92 4.2 Pre-Adamism 102 4.3 Diffusionist Models 105 4.4 Conclusion 113 Chapter 5: Diversity as Degeneration 114 5.1 The "History of Abused Nature" 114 5.2 Diet and Custom 123 5.3 Hybridism and the Threat of Ape-Human Kinship 129 5.4 Conclusion 138 Chapter 6: From Lineage to Biogeography 140 6.1 Race, Species, Breed 140 6.2 Francois Bernier's Racial Geography 143 6.3 A Gassendian Natural Philosopher in the Court of the Grand Moghul 149 6.4 Bernier and Leibniz 155 6.5 Conclusion 158 Chapter 7: Leibniz on Human Equality and Human Domination 160 7.1 Introduction 160 7.2 Chains: Leibniz on the Series Generationum 163 7.3 Chains, Continued: Leibniz on Slavery 170 7.4 The Science of Singular Things 183 7.5 Mapping the Diversity of the Russian Empire 187 7.6 Conclusion: Diversity without Race 202 Chapter 8: Anton Wilhelm Amo 207 8.1 "The Natural Genius of Africa" 207 8.2 Amo's Legacy 215 8.3 The Impassivity of the Human Mind 221 8.4 Conclusion: From Philippi to Kant 227 Chapter 9: Race and Its Discontents in the Enlightenment 231 9.1 Introduction 231 9.2 The Significance of Skin Color 235 9.3 Kant: From Non Sequitur to Critique? 241 9.4 J. G. Herder: The Expectation of Brotherhood 248 9.5 J. F. Blumenbach: Variety without Plurality 252 Conclusion 264 Biographical Notes 269 Bibliography 273 Index 293
Responsibility: Justin E.H. Smith

Abstract:

People have always been xenophobic, but an explicit philosophical and scientific view of human racial difference only began to emerge during the modern period. Why and how did this happen? Surveying a range of philosophical and natural-scientific texts, dating from the Spanish Renaissance to the German Enlightenment, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference charts the evolution of the modern concept of race and shows that natural philosophy, particularly efforts to taxonomize and to order nature, played a crucial role. Smith demonstrates how the denial of moral equality between Europeans and non-Europeans resulted from converging philosophical and scientific developments, including a declining belief in human nature's universality and the rise of biological classification. The racial typing of human beings grew from the need to understand humanity within an all-encompassing system of nature, alongside plants, minerals, primates, and other animals. While racial difference as seen through science did not arise in order to justify the enslavement of people, it became a rationalization and buttress for the practices of trans-Atlantic slavery. From the work of François Bernier to G.W. Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, and others, Smith delves into philosophy's part in the legacy and damages of modern racism. With a broad narrative stretching over two centuries, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference takes a critical historical look at how the racial categories that we divide ourselves into came into being"

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"In this innovative, thought-provoking book, Smith (history and philosophy of science, Universite Paris Diderot, Paris 7) looks at the construction and evolution, in natural science and anthropology, Read more...

 
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