J.L. Cabell’s A Testimony of Modern Science to the Unity of Mankind and the Human Unity Debate

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J.L. Cabell’s A Testimony of Modern Science to the Unity of Mankind and the Human Unity Debate

If there is any one ideal that we can say each individual in the world desires, it could very likely be equality. Over the ages, humans have been particularly interested in the equality between their fellow man. More specifically, man has been more curious about the concept of race and in finding a scientific validation for the noticeable difference between the races. As the field of science gained authority, the search for a scientific explanation for variations in mankind came to a head in the middle of the nineteenth century.

While it was very easy to classify the other forms of life on the planet by species, it was more difficult for humans. There were those who believed that all of humans came from the same, original creation and were, therefore, of the exact same species. On the other hand, there were many who advocated a multiple-creation theory that involved a separate origin for different types, or races, of man. A great debate raged between scientists from all around the world on this topic for much of the eighteen-forties and fifties. The human unity debate saw some of the most intriguing scientific dialogue the world had seen up to that day, and includes a great deal of discussion on the role, or non-role, of religion in scientific theory.

Of the many biologists, zoologists, physiologists, and many others to take part in this debate was professor of comparative biology and physiology at University of Virginia, James Lawrence Cabell. Born in 1813 to a large family of prominent doctors, Cabell attended the University of Virginia and attended classes in each of the Universit...

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...eliefs and truly question themselves. A nation should be proud to look back at its history, no matter how unfortunate, and be satisfied with the changes it has made for the better. While we have come far since the nineteenth century, no one can deny that many injustices still exist in the U.S. today. We should remember our past and how bravely and fiercely many have fought for equality for all, and maybe someday we could truly realize that ideal.

Works Cited

1. Dain, Bruce. A Hideous Monster of the Mind: American Race theory in the Early

Republic. Harvard University Press, Cambridge. 2002

2. Lurie, Edward. “Louis Agassiz and the Races of Man”. Isis, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Sep.,

1954), 227-242

3. Stanton, William. The Leopard’s Spots: Scientific Attitudes Toward Race in America

1815-59. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 1960

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