Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader / Edition 1

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"... this fellow was quite black from head to foot, a clear proof that what he said was stupid" Immanuel Kant Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze collects into one convenient and controversial volume the most important and influential writings on race that the European Enlightenment produced. In Enlightenment thought reason and civilization became associated with "white" people and northern Europe, while unreason and savagery were conveniently located among "blacks" and non-whites outside Europe, in, for example, the "Dark Continent" of Africa.

The writers and thinkers represented here are: Linne, Buffon, Hume, Beattie, Kant, Herder, Blumenbach, Jefferson, Cuvier, and Hegel. In addition there are entries on the Negro from Diderot's Encyclopedie and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. All texts are situated within their historical, social, and intellectual contexts. A comprehensive introduction, presuming no prior familiarity with the texts concerned, serves as a guide to the student and general reader.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"By unveiling these voices and creating a greater depth of historical context for academic audiences they could expand and complicate modern discussions of racism and its origins.  And indeed, these multilingual (yet translated) sources bring a fuller perspective to the dialogue." (H-Net, September 2010)

"This Reader reframes and expands the discussion of race from an emotional and ideological context to an intellectual and historical one. Moreover, it introduces students to some of the most influential and eloquent philosophers of the period. I think it would be essential to any course on race and useful in any course on the Enlightenment. It is certainly a welcome addition to the available texts." Marilyn Gaull, Temple University/New York University

"It brings together many passages from books only available in research libraries. It will therefore prove to be a useful anthology for teachers and students, providing an excellent starting point for much-needed historical and critical study."Peter Hulme, Research in African Literatures

"In compiling this useful anthology, Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze's starting point was the realization that writing about race formed an important but neglected aspect of Enlightenment thought." "Eze modestly concludes by saying that the collection will succeed if it provokes teachers, researchers, and students into further investigation of the place of race in Enlightenment thought. On that basis, it should be judged a likely success. It brings together many passages from books only available in research libraries. It will therefore prove to be a useful anthology for teachers and students, providing an excellent starting point for much-needed historical and critical study." Research in African Literatures

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631201373
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,229,808
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Bucknell University and is Research Associate at the African Studies Centre, Cambridge University, 1996-8. He is the editor of Blackwell's forthcoming African Philosophy: An Anthology and African Philosophy: A Critical Reader.

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Table of Contents



1. Carl von Linne: "Hommo" in the System of Nature.

2. Georges-Louis Leclerc Buffon: Biological and Geographical Distribution of Mankind.

3. David Hume: Negroes... naturally inferior to the whites. James Beattie: Response to David Hume.

4. Immanuel Kant: On the Different Races of Man. Immanuel Kant: Of National Characteristics. Immanuel Kant: Physical Geography.

5. The Kant-Herder Controversy. Kant: Review of Herder's Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind. Johann Gottfried Herder: Organization of the People of Africa.

6. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach: The Degeneration of Races.

7. Entries on: 'Negre' in the Encyclopedia, and 'Negro' in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

8. Thomas Jefferson: The difference is fixed in nature.

9. Georges Leopold Cuvier, Varieties of the Human Species.

10. Georg Wilhelm Hegel, Africa is enveloped in the Dark Mantle of Night. Georg Wilhelm Hegel, On Colonialism.


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