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Nihilism, Futurist Traditionalism and Conservationism

Where the debate on "race" being "real" gets confused

06 04 11 - 20:21

Humanity still isn't sure of the relationship between language categories and reality:


Universals are general or abstract qualities, characteristics, properties, kinds or relations, such as being male/female, solid/liquid/gas or a certain colour,[1] that can be predicated of individuals or particulars or that individuals or particulars can be regarded as sharing or participating in. For example, Scott, Pat, and Chris have in common the universal quality of being human or humanity.

There are three main positions on the issue: realism, idealism and nominalism (sometimes simply called "anti-realism" with regard to universals)

The realist school claims that universals are real — they exist and are distinct from the particulars that instantiate them. There are various forms of realism. Two major forms are Platonic realism (universalia ante res) and Aristotelian realism (universalia in rebus).[5] Platonic realism is the view that universals are real entities and they exist independent of particulars. Aristotelian realism, on the other hand, is the view that universals are real entities, but their existence is dependent on the particulars that exemplify them. - Pix of Dix


If we're going to talk about race, or any other category, this inherency debate is going to kick us in the nuts. Is race a category of observed traits? I can work with that. Others get hung up on there not being writing on the wall or a single race gene to make it clear to their overeducated peasant brains that race, indeed, is real and not a "social construct" like gender, blood type, eye color, IQ or colon diameter.

21 comments

Racial Realism
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Racial Realism
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Meow Mix
It is intriguing that those who often still sell the 'race isn't real' arguement have an astounding ignorance of evolutionary theory (I'm not saying that actual academic scientists don't know evolution, just laymen repeating their arguments). For instance, any true Darwinist would take Aristotle's position and insist that categories such as kingdom, class, genus, species, and so on are NOT rigid categories or essences but are in some cases rather fluid. There is no fixed 'human' species for instance, but a continuing proliferation of life-forms with similair traits that can be lumped into a category we call homo sapien. Words like 'species' are symbols for such categories of lifeforms. But even the term 'lifeform' itself is problematic, for RNA, viruses, and viroids bring us to the boundary where organic and inorganic seem indistinguishable. Yet, you will hardly meet people who will run around saying 'species don't exist' or 'life doesn't exist'. Yet, somehow we are supposed to beleive that race doesn't exist because Australian Aboriginals and Swedes both can develop blonde hair. Meow Mix - 07-04-’11 17:09
Dave
Yet, somehow we're supposed to believe that race does exist because other subcategories of life, such as genus and species, exist?

By the way, it's the actual academic scientists that to a large degree argue that race isn't real.

The OP is right; there are real traits that correspond to what we mean by race. But they do not fit into any biological natural class; it's not just that there's no single genetic marker. There's no genetics behind it at all. It's based purely on arbitrary phenotypes. For example, the totality of people we call "black" (technically, of sub-Saharan African descent) are not all more related to each other than any subset of them is to any other race. In fact, I believe that group is more genetically diverse than the rest of humanity combined! Dave (Email ) - 07-04-’11 18:29
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TD
@Dave

The fact that there are more variations in races than between races doesn't mean that race doesn't matter or that "it doesn't exist". All it means it's that there is noise and that Humanity sub branched out beyond what we call race. TD - 08-04-’11 15:30
Meow Mix
Dave, I am well aware that most academic scientists today don't think race is a valid taxonomy, I was talking about your average joe repeating their arguements without understanding precisely what they are saying. It's kind of like people I meet in conversations who commonly call the big bang an explosion or say humans evolved from chimps- they have their head in the right place but don't understand the nuances of the arguement and thus come off as idiots.

As for the topic at hand, it seems absurd to say that 'blacks' are less related to eachother than they are to 'other' races. That makes zero sense since they obviously came from the same geographical population at some point! What's next, my Korean friend is more closely related to my German friend than he is to his own mother? Furthermore, if what you said about there being a lack of a 'race gene' (a strawman) is true, it doesn't disqualify the possibility of race, it simply means there is area for greater classification of groups such as the aforementioned subsaharan africans. Keep in mind that these observations about race came about in the 1970s, before DNA testing and the human genome project were in effect. Since then, some scientists are second-guessing the whole 'race isn't real' hypothesis.

Perhaps you should investigate Lewontin's Fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewontin's_Fallacy Meow Mix - 08-04-’11 15:57
Dave
"The fact that there are more variations in races than between races doesn’t mean that race doesn’t matter or that “it doesn’t exist”."

That's true. But that's not the only reason people are saying that race doesn't exist. The point is that the phenotypes that people point to when grouping people within one race or another are arbitrarily chosen, and had some other phenotype been chose, the classificaiton would be entirely different. Dave (Email ) - 08-04-’11 17:18
Dave
@Meow, 1st Paragraph: I agree, although most of the people I've heard simplify human evolution as the idea that "humans evolved from chimps" are creationists, but there are a few others who get it wrong in that way too.

2nd paragraph: It makes perfect sense. Yes, black people all came from the same geographical population at some point, but so did the rest of humanity.
Since the modern human species descends from a population in subsaharan Africa, what happened is that one particular group of those people migrated away from Africa, and seems to be ancestral to all, or at least the majority of, non-black people today. That's what is referred to as a population bottleneck.
Meanwhile, the rest of the sub-Saharan African groups, some of which were only distantly related to those who left, stayed in Africa and continued to diverge genetically. This is why sub-Saharan Africans have more genetic diversity than the rest combined, and why it's strange from a genetic point of view to call sub-Saharan African a "race".

And yes, you could still refer to people descended from sub-Saharan Africa as members of a particular race, but why? It is then bleached into being a designation of a geographical location where some of one's ancestors used to live. The importance of that is purely cultural. Dave (Email ) - 08-04-’11 17:30
Seriously.
Fuck off, Dave. Seriously. - 08-04-’11 23:55
The Truth
Niggers, came from the apes. White man, came from "up above" if you know what I mean ;) The Truth - 09-04-’11 01:03
Dave
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alla
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Dress For Success
"It’s based purely on arbitrary phenotypes."

Not really. Those phenotypes have an amazing predictive power of where the selected individual's ancestors came from. It doesn't make sense to look at genes that all humans have but rather differentiating ones that reveal an anthropological history. Dress For Success (Email ) - 11-04-’11 17:26
Dave
"Those phenotypes have an amazing predictive power of where the selected individual’s ancestors came from."

Oh yeah? You could look Bill Cosby's skin color and tell that his ancestors were from Philadelphia?

Or going the other way, they could tell you exactly which part of Africa his distant ancestors came from?

They only predict a particular point in the history of someone's ancestry, and then not with a large degree of accuracy.

And besides, if race is not based on genes but rather the place of origin of a particular portion of someone's ancestors, then exactly what good is it? Genes may be predictive of behavior to some extent, but place of origin of one's ancestors is definitely not. Dave (Email ) - 11-04-’11 17:48
Dress for Success
"Oh yeah? You could look Bill Cosby’s skin color and tell that his ancestors were from Philadelphia?"

lol. you're being purposefully obtuse

"Or going the other way, they could tell you exactly which part of Africa his distant ancestors came from?"

Yep. It even gets more specific if you're a male with the Y-DNA haplogroups (which comprise of half your chromosomes)

"Or going the other way, they could tell you exactly which part of Africa his distant ancestors came from?"

Yes, actually. Looking at Y-chromosome haplogroups you can easily determine the direct ancestry of a father's paternal line. Many markers have come into existence quite recently in human history (see the J-group haplotype that is indicative of Kohen ancestry which had arisen ~30,000 years ago).

"And besides, if race is not based on genes but rather the place of origin of a particular portion of someone’s ancestors, then exactly what good is it? Genes may be predictive of behavior to some extent, but place of origin of one’s ancestors is definitely not."

Wrong. Determining where one's ancestors comes from has a tremendous amount of explanatory power in determining the genesis of various phenotypes. See lactose intolerance.

Honestly, if this wasn't as important as you say it is, then why have anthropologists concerned themselves with it so much the past 50 years?

Dave, you are a good troll who can sometimes breathe some fresh air into the comment section, but you really don't have any leg to stand on criticizing other groups of academia while you choose to occupy one that is largely based on verbose nonsense that provides no "good." Dress for Success (Email ) - 12-04-’11 02:59
Dave
"lol. you’re being purposefully obtuse"

No, I'm not. Some of his ancestors do indeed come from there, do they not? So why does it matter more for the definition of "race" that his more distant ancestors came from somewhere else? Just because they were there longer?

"Yes, actually."

Ok I stand corrected on that one. So that means that there's not really a "black" race, but hundreds of races within that category, for the various locations in Africa that people have been, correct?

Or are we going to make an arbitrary division there too?

"Wrong. Determining where one’s ancestors comes from has a tremendous amount of explanatory power in determining the genesis of various phenotypes. See lactose intolerance."

First, again, it depends on which ancestors you mean, and when they were. But furthermore, there are other phenotypes that don't map at all to what is traditionally defined as "race". Lactose Intolerance itself can only be defined negatively; most races historically have it, not just one.

"Honestly, if this wasn’t as important as you say it is, then why have anthropologists concerned themselves with it so much the past 50 years?"

Appeal to authority goes both ways. Why are so many anthropologists now saying it's so unimportant?

"Dave, you are a good troll who can sometimes breathe some fresh air into the comment section, but you really don’t have any leg to stand on criticizing other groups of academia while you choose to occupy one that is largely based on verbose nonsense that provides no “good.”"

Where did this come from? What group of academia do you think I occupy? Dave (Email ) - 12-04-’11 10:08
Cargast
People often forget about "ethnicity" when they start talking about race. You can tell with great ease whether someone's ancestors were Eurasian or not. It's a lot harder to tell a Norwegian from a Swede, or a Dinka from a Kakwa, without examining things like culture (including language) or, better yet, genes. Cargast - 02-05-’11 09:21
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