The Explanation Of Human Variation Based On The Ideology Of Separate Human Origins

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The explanation of human variation based on the ideology of separate human origins was first proposed in 1520 by Paracelsus and in 1655 through the works of Issac de Peyere (Banton, 2010). However Polygenism later resurfaced during The Enlightenment in 1777 in the “Sketches of the History of Man” by Lord Kames and was supported in the last 20 years of the 18th century by European historians and ethnographers including Edward Long and Christoph Meiners (Stocking, 1992). During The Enlightenment, the systemisation of race concepts spurred great debate between advocates of monogenism and polygenism. Authors like Stocking (1992) suggest that although Polygenism had its footings in the 18th centaury its prevalence was enhanced by the middle of the 19th centaury and it became a rising intellectual trend around the 1850s. Polygenist theory overlooked the biblical explanation of human origin, proposing instead that various races were independent biological species from separate descendants (Addison, 2009). Polygenism found a following among those uninhabited by religious orthodoxy as it discounted the scriptural account of human origin stated in the Bible and put forth the idea of separate origins of humans (Addison, 2009). In the dominant paradigm of the time and from a young earth creationist perspective of the natural world, it was believed that humans were created relatively recently making it plausible that human groups were created separately in different locations rather than coming from a common decent and spreading across the globe (Fuerst. 2015). Polygenists therefore held the belief that different races of man had separate origins and placed “narrow limits on the effectiveness of environmental forces to modify living forms” (S... ... middle of paper ... ...between an organism and their environment (Gould, 1979. Pg 37). Biologists like Alfred Wallace and Haeckel interpreted Darwinian theory and the survival of the fittest to mean that the strongest race with the greatest ability and cooperation would prevail (Graves, 2001). Gould (1979) suggests that equating organic evolution with progress created the mistaken belief of human domination over nature and all other organisms. Additionally linking organic evolution and progress had later implications on the advocacy in the evolutionary improvement of human beings, through active human intervention based on the theories of Social Darwinism and Eugenics. The theory of Social Darwinism was utilised to rank groups of humans according to their assumed level of evolutionary attainment, with Europeans at the top and the people of the colonies at the bottom of the classification.

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