Monday, June 11, 2018

Ben Domenech: The Enlightenment Is Not Responsible For Racism

That's always been a dumb thesis.
The Englightenment might have tried to put a scientific gloss on it...but the Enlightenment tried to put a scientific gloss on everything.
Jamelle Bouie is wrong about most things, and he's wrong about this. He's right that the Enlightenment has a dark side...but he's wrong about what that is. A cornerstone of his argument is this Kant quote (see final sentence) which is--or so I and others think--intended to be ironic.
   Anyway: did the Enlightenment invent racism? No it did not.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) If you haven't already, read the Holly Brewer article on Locke that Domenech links to. It's honestly the most interesting things in the history of philosophy and early American history I've read. Brewer very effectively demonstrates that the implementation of the slavery system in the British Crown colonies was not property rights fixated Whigs guided by Locke, but counter-revolutionary Royalists reading Filmer and de Bracton. It's a real revelation, history wise, and it politely but thoroughly demolishes American Slavery, American Freedom, that damned silly cornerstone of anti-liberal leftism.

(2) Be a little more fair to Bouie. He never claims that racism was the investigation of the enlightenment, but that "modern racism" is. This manages to be true, if kind of vacuous, since the enlightenment is responsible for the modern version of nearly everything. His substantial claim that Locke provided the justification for chattel slavery with his suspended-death-sentence theory I believe is wrong, but is definitely debatable. He's right about Kant.

(3) Give up on Kant in this area. Kant was was a capital-R Racist, the kind with theories. Hell, its right there in the second paragraph of the passage you link to. The thing to say about Kant's (real, super-duper) racism and its role in the enlightenmnet and development of liberalism is not that he didn't build a whole anthrology around racism, because he did, but that Kant's influence on liberalism as a practical doctrine is very slight. Most of his effect on political thought is indirect, thought Hegel and Fichte, and neither is a liberal in my book. Fichte more or lest invented ethnic nationalism. The only self-conceived liberals to make much use of Kant are Rawls and his friends, and all they did was to try and provide a theoretical rationalization for the existing, post-war liberal democratic order. And of course they did not make use of any of the crazy anthropology.

11:11 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home