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Creatures of Cain$
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Erika Lorraine Milam

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181882

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181882.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Creatures of Cain

Erika Lorraine Milam

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter offers a quick glimpse into the historical milieu during which this volume is set. Between the Second World War and the 1970s, this chapter shows that scientists from a wide range of disciplines crafted a historical trajectory for humanity that was self-consciously anti-eugenic. The best of humanity had not degenerated from living in the artificial constructs of civilization, would not dissolve because of the overbreeding of the lower classes, and could not be corrupted through miscegenation. Instead, these evolutionists argued that our common past provided evidence of our continued remarkable success as a species. In essence, so these scientists reasoned, our present human nature resulted from the synergy of biology and culture, both in dynamic flux throughout our development as a species. We had become the most recent manifestation of a human lineage destined for even greater things in the future. Through their work, an evolutionary perspective wended its way into each discipline perched at the intersection of the natural and social sciences.

Keywords:   1970s, humanity, evolutionists, human nature, biology, culture, human lineage, natural sciences, social sciences, Second World War

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