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essay3 - Gahimbare 1 HIST 100 Inventing Race Yves Gahimbare...

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Gahimbare 1 HIST 100: Inventing Race Yves Gahimbare 5/12/09 Philosophers and historians of the 18 th and 19 th centuries borrowed ideas from previous researchers in order to create their own ideas about what the different races are. Due to their limited knowledge about other cultures, they had to make assumptions on the physical and mental characteristics of these people by using either biological or scientific claims. Even though some philosophers and historians tried to exclude social beliefs from their classifications, it is obvious that most 18 th and 19 th century researchers used socioeconomic status and social beliefs to formulate their ideas about race and about the different people they classified. Two very influential researchers who attempted to create their ideas of race through science are Francois-Marie Voltaire, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and Immanuel Kant. 18 th century philosopher Francois-Marie Voltaire had a few ideas about the origin of race in his essay. Immediately, Voltaire starts out by stating the races he believes in: the whites, the negroes, the Albinoes, the Hottentots, the Laplanders, the Chinese and the Americans. First of all, it can be noted that his classification of races does not make a lot of sense in itself. He uses color, a disease and location to come up with his different races instead of being consistent and sticking with just location or just color, etc.
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Gahimbare 2 Voltaire’s biological claims are consistently incorrect as he attempts to describe how Albinoes live in caverns and then admits to the existence of monsters (but not their reproduction). Even though Voltaire made very incorrect claims about race, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach studied with skulls and his essay is somewhat more engaging than that of Voltaire. When he was in his early 20s, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach wrote his doctoral dissertation on the natural variety of mankind. Appropriately, he starts his dissertation by stating the different races he believes best classifies all mankind: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American and Malay (27). Then, without reason, he continues to describe a spectrum in which he places each of the five races he states. His race spectrum is in the following order: Ethiopian-Malay-Caucasian-American-Mongolian (28).
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