essay2 - Gahimbare 1 HIST 100: Inventing Race Yves...

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Gahimbare 1 HIST 100: Inventing Race Yves Gahimbare 12:03:53 The debate over the origins of race and which types of races existed was conducted by 18 th century philosophers such as Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and Immanuel Kant. Even though their ideas were immature and naïve, it is interesting to analyze the similarities and differences in the arguments of the different philosophers. Furthermore, about two centuries later, the debate evolved into whether race was a social construct or a biological trait. This debate was conducted by Richard Lewontin and Armand Marie Leroi. Even though, their completely opposing opinions about the origins of race and the reasons races exist stimulate a strong, thought-provoking debate, it is the ways in which they agree or disagree with the past debates that help one determine whether race is socially constructed or not. In The Idea of Race , Johann Friedrich Blumenbach starts his argument by stating the different races he believes exist: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American and Malay (27). Blumenbach immediately makes it apparent to the reader that his statement is racially favoring Caucasians by stating that they are the primeval race. In the next few pages, he does a fine job of describing the phenotypes of each race. However, it seems he is only doing that to separate other races from Caucasians, which he believes are “the most handsome and becoming” race (28). In the same manner, Blumenbach continues to state how he agrees with a statement made by another philosopher that all nations have handsome and ugly people; the handsome are white and the ugly are darker. Despite that, Blumenbach does make a racially unbiased comment in which he states that the manner in which he separates the different races has to do with their overall
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Gahimbare 2 phenotypic differences. Nevertheless, after reading Blumenbach’s ideas, it is clear that he classifies races based on how they differ from Caucasians. Furthermore, his argument
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essay2 - Gahimbare 1 HIST 100: Inventing Race Yves...

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