Tag Archives: critical theory

Part 4: The Races of Humanity or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Socially Constructed Divisions – Part 2

In part 2 of my [IDEOLOGY IN PROGRESS] series, I argued that the concept of race is not a social construction like the left claims, but rather is a biological reality due to genotypical and phenotypical differences amongst populations.

Those who claim X as being a social construction assume the negativity of social constructionism. – Unknown

While I still think that is the case, I ended part 2 with the following statement: “Finally, stay tuned for part two of this post (it will come sometime in the “Ideology in Progress” series) where I ignore everything I wrote above and assume race is a social construct and then explain why division is good! *Basically an “even if it’s a social construct that creates division, that division is good and not discriminatory” argument*”.

And that brings us to this post. I am going to ignore everything I said in the previous post and jump on the liberal bandwagon yelling “race is a social construct!”. However, as the opening quotation points out, even if race (or anything) is a social construct, that doesn’t inherently mean that it’s a bad thing. Rather, just that it might create divisions amongst people. I shall argue after the jump that even if the concept of race is a purely social construction, it, and the divisions amongst people that it creates, are a good thing.

So, let’s begin.

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John LOOOcke – An Object-Oriented Ontological Critique of Lockean Property Acquisition

Part 0: Meta

What follows is a retooled version of a paper I wrote a while ago for a political science class. I did some reworking and editing both to make the argument better as well as to make sure the formatting was decent (eg. photos, relevant addons, etc.), but nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it!

 Part 1: Introduction

Although John Locke’s conception of the generation of private property from common property is profound in that it provided a new, pre-materialist[1], model of understanding how private property and value are created, it, like so many other historical models, has its own issues. Specifically, Locke’s view of nature as the common gift given by God to man in order to exploit for his own devices – namely for man to act upon and change to create value and property – is a fundamentally troublesome way of viewing the world because it defines humans as the sole arbiters of valuation and value creation by elevating the ontological status of humans above non-human objects in the world thus privileging an anthropocentric mindset. The creation of, what I call, an arborescent ontology that is inherent in this mode of thinking not only has been the justification for the destruction/objectification[2] of Indigenous Peoples (among other, “lesser” beings) and the expansion into America that Locke mentions, but also is a poor epistemic starting point for understanding policy making and governmentality as it already assumes some inherent “natural order” or teleological end point and is not self-reflective. This paper serves to function as an object-oriented ontological/epistemological critique of Locke’s concept of value creation and the implications thereof – the implications being arborescent ontology – in favor of a less hierarchical[3], more or rhizomatic ontology – flat ontology.

Before continuing, however, I feel as though some key terms and concepts ought to be defined and described in order to avoid confusion later on. Although I am using words like “arborescent” and “rhizomatic” in their Deleuze and Guattarian sense, I do not intend to drag along the baggage that comes with Deleuze and his seeming disdain for non-human object focus. When I say “arborescent ontology” I mean a very hierarchical focus on understanding being in the world such that one’s description of is very rigid and tree-like, that is to say very “unidirectional”.[4] When the rhizome is discussed (in the context of rhizomatic forms of knowledge), I mean less rigid and more free flowing – that is, grass like – forms of knowledge and understanding (at the least, bidirectional and arguably polydirectional).[5] Finally, when object-oriented ontology is discussed, I feel like there is no better definition than the following one given by Ian Bogost: [6]

Ontology is the philosophical study of existence. Object-oriented ontology (“OOO” for short) puts things at the center of this study. Its proponents contend that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally–plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example. In contemporary thought, things are usually taken either as the aggregation of ever smaller bits (scientific naturalism) or as constructions of human behavior and society (social relativism). OOO steers a path between the two, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves.[7]

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Part 2: The Races of Humanity or: In Defense of the Biological Reality of Race and Towards a New Understanding of Diversity – Part 1

There’s been an interesting trend in critical theory as of late, saying the concept of race is a “social construct”. Critical theorists and writers posting from The Atlantic to St. Catherine University to other accredited institutions all seem to be writing about how race amongst humans is not something that is biologically rooted, rather it is created based upon social contexts under which people live.

Writer and theorist for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, explains this view best when he says:

Our notion of what constitutes “white” and what constitutes “black” is a product of social context. It is utterly impossible to look at the delineation of a “Southern race” and not see the Civil War, the creation of an “Irish race” and not think of Cromwell’s ethnic cleansing, the creation of a “Jewish race” and not see anti-Semitism. There is no fixed sense of “whiteness” or “blackness,” not even today…When the liberal says “race is a social construct,” he is not being a soft-headed dolt; he is speaking an historical truth (Coates).

While there is a lot of truth in the argument that humans construct views of people around us based on the context we’re in, claiming that race is solely a social construction or, as Mr. Coates says, “is no more dependent on skin color today than it was on “Frankishness” in Emerson’s day [he’s referencing Ralph Wald Emerson talking about Race]”(Coates), denies fundamental genetic differences amongst humans.

In what follows, I will lay out my argument that race is not merely a social construct, but rather the claim that race has biological roots and that there are clear and demonstratable genetic differences amongst different races.

Now all that being said, I feel like I must include this note: I do not believe any race is inherently superior, rather that there are differences in abilities between races and these differences, coupled with social context (here is where the social construction comes in), breeds feelings of superiority.

So, join me after the jump and all will be explained in depth!

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