Monday, September 17, 2007

The Answers to the Quiz

The answer to all 7 "who said it?" quotes was d. 1 & 2 were the work of Jean Jacques Rousseau. 3 was David Hume. 4 & 5 were Arthur Schopenhauer. (I realize that Schopenhauer was 19th Century, but I think we can agree that his place on the tail end of the Enlightenment puts him in a group with the other Enlightenment philosophers.) 6 & 7 were Immanuel Kant.

The point? So many like to argue that X problem was created by religion and solved by "rationality." Considering the actual history of the development of modern Western ideas on race, gender, and sex, the interpretation is highly questionable. The quotes given are just (forgive the cliche) the tip of the iceberg when it comes to "rational" justifications for factionalism, ignorance and bigotry.

One could add to the above the work of 18th, 19th and early 20th century scientists, including those no less influential than Carolus Linnaeus (a pioneer in scientific racism),Charles Darwin (who argued for a progressive hierarchy of races and female inferiority as a product of sexual selection), Sir Francis Galton (the father of eugenics), and Sigmund Freud (no explanation needed, I think).

Scientists and philosophers of the Englightenment and the proceeding centuries (many of them atheists) promoted racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-sex hysteria and a whole host of other social ills. Whatever religion's contribution, (and I don't doubt that there is one) rationality was no "savior."

I'll leave you with a couple quotes from Darwin:
"At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla."

"Men attain a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women - whether requiring deep thought, reason or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands; If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music history, science, and philosophy, with half a dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer from the law of the deviation from averages, that the average mental power in man must be above that of women."


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