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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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Curious Kinks

Curious Kinks

(p.24) Chapter 1 Curious Kinks
Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference

Justin E. H. Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter engages with current philosophical accounts of racial categories, paying particular attention to the relevance for recent philosophy of both social constructionism as well as the cognitivist approach in understanding categorial schemes such as that of modern racial classification. It aims to show that, while much of the recent literature in fields as diverse as cognitive anthropology, analytic philosophy of race, and postcolonial theory has been tremendously useful in clarifying the precise nature and function of racial categories, and in accounting for their tenaciousness in a world in which they are recognized to be of little scientific value (with a few caveats), nonetheless these approaches must be complemented by a deepened understanding of the historical development of the categories they call into question, and of the way current thinking about race is shaped and also constrained by a past of which we remain largely unaware.

Keywords:   racial categories, social constructionism, cognitivist approach, modern racial classification, race, categorial schemes

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