- "His Native, Hot Country"1: Racial Science and Environment in Antebellum American Medical Thought. [Historical Article]
- JHJ Hist Med Allied Sci 2017 Jul 01; 72(3):328-351
- Relying on a close reading of more than 4,000 medicals student theses, this essay explores the evolving medical approaches to race and environment in the early national and antebellum United States a…
Relying on a close reading of more than 4,000 medicals student theses, this essay explores the evolving medical approaches to race and environment in the early national and antebellum United States and highlights the role that medical school pedagogy played in disseminating and elaborating racial theory. Specifically, it considers the influence of racial science on medical concepts of the relationship of bodies to climates. At their core, monogenesis-belief in a single, unified human race-and polygenesis-the belief that each race was created separately-were theories about the human body's connections to the natural world. As polygenesis became influential in Atlantic medical thought, physicians saw environmental treatments as a matter of matching bodies to their natural ecology. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Atlantic physicians understood bodies and places as in constant states of flux. Through proper treatment, people and environments could suffer either degradation or improvement. Practitioners saw African Americans and whites as the same species with their differences being largely superficial and produced by climate. However, by the 1830s and 1840s medical students were learning that each race was inherently different and unalterable by time or temperature. In this paradigm, medical students articulated a vision of racial health rooted in organic relationships between bodies and climates.
- Phonemic clicks and the mapping asymmetry: How language emerged and speech developed. [Review]
- NBNeurosci Biobehav Rev 2017; 81(Pt B):279-294
- Language existed before human populations became separated (all descendant populations have language) but language did not emerge until long after these population divergences occurred (behavioral mo…
Language existed before human populations became separated (all descendant populations have language) but language did not emerge until long after these population divergences occurred (behavioral modernity only showed then). Distinguishing capacity for language from externalized language resolves the apparent paradox, eliminates the need of proto-language, and rules out monogenesis. Speech emerged only after the capacity for language became (sufficiently) fixated in the species. This accords well with a fundamental property of human language. Rules mapping to meaning rely on structural properties only, while rules mapping to sound are (also) sensitive to linear order, reflecting properties of sensorimotor modalities. The asymmetry suggests (i) primacy of internal language over speech/sign, and (ii) evolution of capacity of language preceding externalized language. Click phonemes with their unique geneological, genetic and geographical distribution may be relevant here. All biologically Khoisan groups speak click languages, which are spoken by biologically Khoisan groups only. Separation followed possession of internal language but preceded externalized language. Clicks were recruited for externalization in San populations only after deepest separation.
- Evolutionary Asiacentrism, Peking man, and the origins of sinocentric ethno-nationalism. [Historical Article]
- JHJ Hist Biol 2014; 47(4):585-625
- This paper discusses how the theory of evolutionary Asiacentrism and the Peking Man findings at the Zhoukoudian site stimulated Chinese intellectuals to construct Sinocentric ethno-nationalism during…
This paper discusses how the theory of evolutionary Asiacentrism and the Peking Man findings at the Zhoukoudian site stimulated Chinese intellectuals to construct Sinocentric ethno-nationalism during the period from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. It shows that the theory was first popularized by foreign scientists in Beijing, and the Peking man discoveries further provided strong evidence for the idea that Central Asia, or to be more specific, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Mongolia, was the original cradle of humans. Chinese scholars in the late 1930s and 1940s appropriated the findings to construct the monogenesis theory of the Chinese, which designated that all the diverse ethnic groups within the territory of China shared a common ancestor back to antiquity.
- Darwin and the linguists: the coevolution of mind and language, Part 1. Problematic friends. [Journal Article]
- SHStud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 2007; 38(3):573-84
- In his book The descent of man (1871), Charles Darwin paid tribute to a trio of writers (Hensleigh Wedgwood, F. W. Farrar, and August Schleicher) who offered naturalistic explanations of the origin o…
In his book The descent of man (1871), Charles Darwin paid tribute to a trio of writers (Hensleigh Wedgwood, F. W. Farrar, and August Schleicher) who offered naturalistic explanations of the origin of language. Darwin's concurrence with these figures was limited, however, because each of them denied some aspect of his thesis that the evolution of language had been coeval with and essential to the emergence of humanity's characteristic mental traits. Darwin first sketched out this thesis in his theoretical notebooks of the 1830s and then clarified his position in Descent, where he argued that mind-language coevolution had occurred prior to the rise of distinct racial groups. He thus opposed the view of August Schleicher and Ernst Haeckel, who (along with Alfred Russel Wallace) taught that speech had originated subsequent to the geographical and racial dispersion of humanity's ancestors. As Darwin argued in Descent, this quasi-polygenetic version of coevolution was unable to explain primeval man's initial dominance over rival ape-like populations. Drawing inspiration from British anthropologists, Darwin made the early development of language, hence mental monogenesis, central to his account of human evolution.
- Kant on epigenesis, monogenesis and human nature: the biological premises of anthropology. [Historical Article]
- SHStud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 2006; 37(4):675-93
- The aim of this paper is to show that for Kant, a combination of epigenesis and monogenesis is the condition of possibility of anthropology as he conceives of it and that moreover, this has crucial i…
The aim of this paper is to show that for Kant, a combination of epigenesis and monogenesis is the condition of possibility of anthropology as he conceives of it and that moreover, this has crucial implications for the biological dimension of his account of human nature. More precisely, I begin by arguing that Kant's conception of mankind as a natural species is based on two premises: firstly the biological unity of the human species (monogenesis of the human races); and secondly the existence of 'seeds' which may or may not develop depending on the environment (epigenesis of human natural predispositions). I then turn to Kant's account of man's natural predispositions and show that far from being limited to the issue of races, it encompasses unexpected human features such as gender, temperaments and nations. These predispositions, I argue, are means to the realisation of Nature's overall purpose for the human species. This allows me to conclude that man's biological determinism leads to the species' preservation, cultivation and civilisation.
- [On phenomena of intersexuality and monogenesis in the genus Chaetophiloscia (Isopoda, Oniscoidea). II. Monogenesis in Chaetophiloscia elengata (Dollfus) and Ch. sicula (Verhoeff)]. [Journal Article]
- BBBull Biol Fr Belg 1971; 105(1):3-52
- [Sex determination and monogenesis in Orchestia gammarella (Pallas)]. [Journal Article]
- CRC R Seances Soc Biol Fil 1967; 161(1):23-9