OpenPsych forums
[OBG] Nature of Race Full - Printable Version

+- OpenPsych forums (https://www.openpsych.net/forum)
+-- Forum: Forums (https://www.openpsych.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?fid=1)
+--- Forum: Post-review discussions (https://www.openpsych.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?fid=5)
+--- Thread: [OBG] Nature of Race Full (/showthread.php?tid=226)

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40


RE: Nature of Race, part 3 - Chuck - 2015-Jan-12

(2015-Jan-11, 18:15:29)Peter Frost Wrote: "on the level of the individual, genealogical similarity alone explains genotypic, and with it concordant phenotypic, similarity."


Peter,

I appreciate your comments and willingness to review this paper. I do not imagine that we disagree on any substantive empirical points. But if so, we should try to identify those. Otherwise, disagreement concerns my descriptive emphasis, wording, and characterizations. That you have raised a number of issues suggests that my discussion has not been clear enough. To help me fix the various problems, perhaps you could note which issues are most in need of further elaboration and, perhaps, suggest where the best place to include such would be. Some of the problem seems to be that I touch on issues in different sections and expect readers to connect the dots.


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Emil - 2015-Jan-12

(2015-Jan-11, 18:39:54)Peter Frost Wrote: Chuck,

It's important to note that prior to Darwin (actually prior to the rediscovery of Mendel's work around 1900), people tended to conceive human physical and behavioral variation in Lamarckian terms. They believed that the natural environment, and climate in particular, exerted a direct action on the human organism, which would be passed on to one's descendants. So the debate of nature versus nurture didn't really exist as we understand it today. People were different, and these differences would appear in their immediate progeny when transported to a different climate. Over successive generations, however, they would become more and more like the surrounding population of their new environment.

I'm flattered by the citation, but I'm not sure that a discussion in a web forum constitutes a citable reference. (Note: the end of the sentence is missing. It should read "takes on a meaning different from genetic variation within any one population."


Everything is citeable. If one wanted, one could cite specific posts by their permalink. E.g. Chuck's post above is: http://openpsych.net/forum/showthread.php?tid=205&pid=2650#pid2650


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Peter Frost - 2015-Jan-12

Chuck,

I don't want to pester you with endless criticism, but I have serious problems with the following statement:

"In short, the existence of different peoples with different sets of inter-generationally transmitted traits has long been recognized and discussed.

In antiquity, scholars and common folk alike were aware of two things:

1. nations are groups of closely related people, i.e., extended families writ large
2. different nations tend to look different from each other, often very different.

But they didn't make a link between the two. As they saw it, it wasn't because of different ancestry that the Ethiopians looked more different than, say, the Greeks or the Gauls. The Ethiopians looked so different because they had been burned by the sun or because they had committed a terrible sin (the Curse of Ham). The ancients had no sense of natural selection interacting with populations to produce physical differences. They really believed in the direct action of the environment.

The same ignorance existed in Christian tradition. Yes, Noah had three sons: Ham, Shem, and Japheth, whose descendants became all of humanity, but early Christians did not use this genealogy to explain physical differences, and when confronted with human differences they preferred to fall back on the direct action of climate or divine intervention (the Curse of Ham). One reason was that the creation of the world was believed to have been relatively recent, so small generational differences could not have possibly produced the large differences seen between many human peoples. This was not simply a problem with the ancients. Even Darwin was worried that there might not have been enough time to make natural selection work.

I see a recurring tendency in your text. You tend to "project" on to the past. You make past ideas seem more familiar, more sensible, and more modern than they really are.


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Emil - 2015-Jan-12

The tendency has a name, anachronism.


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Duxide - 2015-Jan-12

(2015-Jan-01, 23:36:17)Peter Frost Wrote: 1. The Romans were Lamarckians, i.e., they believed that behavioral and anatomical differences are due to the direct action of climate and other environmental factors. All humans can thus become Roman citizens, since the blessings of a common climate and civilization will, in time, erase such differences. That was official Roman ideology, and it persisted right until the very end.

Your statement needs to be qualified. Perhaps the Romans were Lamarckians from a racial or cross-cultural point of view, but certainly not from an individual point of view or within the same society as power was hereditary and it was generally believed that the offspring of good commanders would become good commanders and the offspring of good emperors would become good emperors, etc. (See A.Goldsworthy's books).
However, even the statement that the Romans were Lamarckians from a cross-cultural point of view needs some examples to support it.


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Chuck - 2015-Jan-12

(2015-Jan-12, 06:47:22)Peter Frost Wrote: I see a recurring tendency in your text. You tend to "project" on to the past. You make past ideas seem more familiar, more sensible, and more modern than they really are.


This strikes me as being a serious charge. Let's distinguish between four possibilities:

(a) I am making factually incorrect statements and thus directly misleading.
(b) I am not acknowledging historic incoherencies regarding the race concept; I am simply eliding over issues.
© While noting incoherence, I am doing so too passingly.
(d) I am noting incoherence but focusing on the coherence.

In typical discussions of race (a-c) are common; I cited copious examples of this. The historiography is generally awful. I acknowledge engaging in (d); this makes sense because the point of my paper is to tease out the meaning of race and show the concept's coherence, past and present. Regarding (a), so far we have discovered only one minor case, concerning the Roman view. You have since raised another issue:

Quote:but I have serious problems with the following statement:

[quote]"In short, the existence of different peoples with different sets of inter-generationally transmitted traits has long been recognized and discussed.

In antiquity, scholars and common folk alike were aware of two things:

1. nations are groups of closely related people, i.e., extended families writ large
2. different nations tend to look different from each other, often very different.

But they didn't make a link between the two. As they saw it, it wasn't because of different ancestry that the Ethiopians looked more different than, say, the Greeks or the Gauls. The Ethiopians looked so different because they had been burned by the sun or because they had committed a terrible sin (the Curse of Ham).

I agree that a clear connection between extended genealogy and morphological differences was often not made. This is why the 17th-19th century concept of "race" is interesting; it makes this connection clearly and it adds the idea of an accumulation of small differences through endogamy (i.e., varieties becoming more constant with the incrossing of lines of descent).

That said, I maintain that there was (some) recognition of the inter-generational (and heritable) transference of ethnic character in Greco Roman times -- though not enough to make the race concept uninteresting/redundant. Before I proceed, let me distinguish between four possibilities:

1. Ethnic character differences were solely directly due to local environment, thus Africans born in Europe would not be black.
2. Ethnic character differences were directly due to local environment and cultural practices, thus Africans born in Europe could be black by retaining their cultural e.g., dietary habits.
3. Ethnic character differences were directly due to epigenetic-like inheritance, resulting from the historic effects of local environment and cultural practices.
4. Ethnic character differences were directly due to genetic-like inheritance, resulting from differential selection.

By possibilities 2 to 4, characters are "inter-generationally" transferred. By possibilities 3 and 4 they are heritable in the non anachronistic sense, where this just means genealogically passed on. By my reading, in Ancient Greece and Rome and Medieval Europe the view was a mix of 1 to 3, often with an emphasis on 1/2. You can see 3 (or maybe even 4 given Henry's (2011) interpretation), at times, for example in Aristotle. Thus, Henry (2006) notes:

"Second, formal pangenesis (like material pangenesis) will not be able to account for the phenomenon of atavism, which Aristotle thinks any adequate theory of inheritance must explain. This is the most significant for my purposes here. Take the case of the woman from Elis, which Aristotle uses in Book 1 to undermine pangenesis. The woman from Elis, who was pale skinned, had a daughter with a man from Ethiopia, who was dark skinned. Their daughter (call her Hypatia) was pale skinned, but her son was dark skinned. (The assumption here is that Hypatia’s husband was also pale skinned.) Aristotle’s theory explains this by pointing to a in Hypatia’s seed derived from a corresponding in herself (in accordance with 767b35–768a2). Obviously the which is the source of the dark-skinned does not refer to an actual characteristic of Hypatia’s body, since Hypatia does not have dark skin. (Aristotle on the Mechanism of Inheritance)

And as you noted, Greco-Roman views were often, to use your term, Lamarckian (or epigenetic):

"Many authors combine environmental determinism with a belief in the inheritance of acquired characteristics. When applied to human groups, this leads somewhat paradoxically to an assumption that characteristics acquired through outside influences then somehow are passed on to the next generation and become uniform and constant. One example must suffice, taken from Livy's account of a speech made by the commander Cn. Manlius before his troops in 189 BC. The troops were about to give battle to mixed forces of a people descended from Celts who had moved from Europe to Asia Minor. The commander tells his troops (Livy 38.17.9-10): 'These [Celtic units] are now degenerate, of mixed stock and really Gallogrecians, as they are called; just as in the case of crops and animals, the seeds are not as good in preserving their natural quality as the character of the soil and the climate in which they grow have the power to change it' (Florus 1.27.3-4.). Climate and geography have definite effects on all people being born in a given region. These effects then become permanent traits because they become hereditary in one or two generations. (Proto-racism in Graeco-Roman antiquity)"

If in fact so, I don't see how I am going astray in saying: "existence of different peoples with different sets of inter-generationally transmitted traits has long been recognized". Or are you arguing that (1) was the dominant view?

You say: "But they didn't make a link between the two. As they saw it, it wasn't because of different ancestry that the Ethiopians looked more different than, say, the Greeks or the Gauls."

But then how are they, as you have said, "Lamarckian" and what explains why Aristotle and others discussed the inheritance (in some sense) of ethnic traits? I suspect that you are tacitly defining "because of different ancestry" to mean (4). and then implying that I am being anachronistic for using "genealogical"/inter-generational in a non-anachronistic inclusive sense of "passed on along genealogical lines". Or maybe you think that I am just not being clear enough. Or maybe you think that the transition from epigenetic to genetic inheritance is so significant that I should emphasize the disconnect, instead of merely noting it in passing? I don't because my focus is on race as lineage not on the etiology of racial/group/ethnic character differences. Of course, since races were delineated by character differences, for a proper racial or lineage based division these differences need to somehow track lineage -- but for this an epigenetic account works sufficiently.

Let me summarize: (a) I don't think that I said anything factually incorrect, except perhaps what I have since corrected. Regarding (b), I passingly mentioned the issue of inconsistency and epigenetics at least with regards to some concepts. And I juxtaposed the race concept with a concept in which character differences were environmental/cultural, so it can't be said that I didn't mention that issue. But maybe I didn't © emphasize enough the genetic/epigenetic difference -- or the ancient race unlike (in the sense of non-inherited characters) positions?

You continue:

Quote:The same ignorance existed in Christian tradition. Yes, Noah had three sons: Ham, Shem, and Japheth, whose descendants became all of humanity, but early Christians did not use this genealogy to explain physical differences, and when confronted with human differences they preferred to fall back on the direct action of climate or divine intervention (the Curse of Ham). One reason was that the creation of the world was believed to have been relatively recent, so small generational differences could not have possibly produced the large differences seen between many human peoples. This was not simply a problem with the ancients.

By "did not use this genealogy to explain physical differences" do you mean that they did not hold epigenetic views (3 above)? Could you provide a source? How would the curse of Ham worked if traits were not genealogically passed on? Or did each generation get cursed anew?

Since I am arguing that the "race concept" was incorporated into natural history to explain the apparent "genealogical related transference of physical differences", I would hope that some thought otherwise, that is that some adopted position 1 or 2.
Otherwise I am left in need of explaining why the race concept was needed. As it is, I don't understand where the variety as purely environmental (non-epigenetic) deviations came from, since in Aristotle (the father of biology) and other Grecian thinkers, one finds an understanding of inheritance of ethnic characters. I had myself presumed that there was Medieval+ christian influence (and that the inheritance idea must not have been very popular among the ancients ) -- but I was unable to find a source, so I elided over the issue. Thus, if you have one that would be great.

Quote:I don't want to pester you with endless criticism

If you had time I wouldn't mind. It would help if you could note what specific content would be helpful and in which section. I am 90% sure that we don't [edit] disagree on anything substantive and that the problem (for you) is my emphasis and incomplete presentation.


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Chuck - 2015-Jan-12

(2015-Jan-12, 18:44:54)Duxide Wrote: Your statement needs to be qualified. Perhaps the Romans were Lamarckians from a racial or cross-cultural point of view, but certainly not from an individual point of view or within the same society as power was hereditary and it was generally believed that the offspring of good commanders would become good commanders and the offspring of good emperors would become good emperors, etc. (See A.Goldsworthy's books).


We must be using different senses of "heredity","genealogically", and "inherited'. As I learned it ,"Lamarckian inheritance" was not understood to be an oxymoron.
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/ridley/a-z/Lamarckian_inheritance.asp
And heredity traditionally meant "genealogically" passed on.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hereditary
I appreciate that "heredity" now implies "molecular genetically transmitted", but it should be appreciated that in context of pre-Darwin discussions the term is used in a broader sense.


[OBG] Nature of Race part 5 - Chuck - 2015-Jan-14

[OBG] Nature of Race, part 5: Critique of Anti-Biological Race Arguments

Author: John Fuerst

Abstract: Racial constructionists, anti-naturalists, and anti-realists have challenged users of the biological race concept to provide and defend, from the perspective of biology, biological philosophy, sociology, and ethics, a biologically informed concept of race. We do this in a six part analysis. Part 5 critiques anti-Biological Race arguments.

Keywords: natural division, race, biology

The article can be found here: https://osf.io/yk9zq/

(There are 6 parts; each will be submitted to OBG as a separate chapter.)

[Edit (1/21/2015): Please download the latest version of the document and read it; the OSF browser version does not include the many footnotes.]


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Duxide - 2015-Jan-14

(2015-Jan-12, 22:08:59)Chuck Wrote:
(2015-Jan-12, 18:44:54)Duxide Wrote: Your statement needs to be qualified. Perhaps the Romans were Lamarckians from a racial or cross-cultural point of view, but certainly not from an individual point of view or within the same society as power was hereditary and it was generally believed that the offspring of good commanders would become good commanders and the offspring of good emperors would become good emperors, etc. (See A.Goldsworthy's books).


We must be using different senses of "heredity","genealogically", and "inherited'. As I learned it ,"Lamarckian inheritance" was not understood to be an oxymoron.
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/ridley/a-z/Lamarckian_inheritance.asp
And heredity traditionally meant "genealogically" passed on.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hereditary
I appreciate that "heredity" now implies "molecular genetically transmitted", but it should be appreciated that in context of pre-Darwin discussions the term is used in a broader sense.

You provide some evidence for the ancients' belief in Lamarckian inheritance when applied to groups but I do not see much evidence regarding it when applied to individuals.


RE: Nature of Race part 4 - Chuck - 2015-Jan-16

(2015-Jan-12, 06:47:22)Peter Frost Wrote: I see a recurring tendency in your text. You tend to "project" on to the past. You make past ideas seem more familiar, more sensible, and more modern than they really are.


I will post a rewrite shortly.