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Nature, Human Nature, and Human DifferenceRace in Early Modern Philosophy$
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Justin E. H. Smith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153643

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153643.001.0001

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The Specter of Polygenesis

The Specter of Polygenesis

Chapter:
(p.92) Chapter 4 The Specter of Polygenesis
Source:
Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference
Author(s):

Justin E. H. Smith

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691153643.003.0005

This chapter follows the development of Renaissance debates about the nature of human diversity into the following century, and particularly as they played out in France and England. It focuses in particular on so-called polygenesis, as represented most famously by Isaac La Peyrère's pre-Adamism, according to which different human groups were created at different moments. Furthermore, the chapter considers some of the elaborate attempts to account for the migration of human beings throughout the world in terms of diffusionist models, focusing in particular on the work of the seventeenth-century English jurist Matthew Hale, and arguing that such attempts played an important role in the increasing naturalization of modern paleoanthropology, and therefore also of modern accounts of the nature of human diversity.

Keywords:   Renaissance, human diversity, polygenesis, pre-Adamism, human groups, diffusionist models, human migration, modern paleoanthropology

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