Darwin sought to not only produce a new scientific truth, but also to put an end to polygenism, the current scientific discourse on human origins that gave tacit and at times explicit support for slavery: ‘... when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death.’ (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 235)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Quadrupedia and the Observations on the Three Kingdoms of Nature by Linnaeus (1735)

More of my efforts to understand better the course of Natural History as it relates to the understanding of Human variety.  This is the first post of a series that will translate or transcribe Linnaeus' classifications of human variety from the 1st edition of the Systema Naturae until the 12th edition.  Note that not all editions contained significant changes.  It is notable how much emphasis is placed upon direct visual observation as well as the use of geographical references, e.g., the table as a "quasi-Geographical" representation of Nature. 

Linnaeus's Paradoxa are those animals whose existence is doubtful or unverified and are given in an earlier post:  The Paradoxa from the Systema natura by Linnaeus (1735).

Until the 10th edition of 1758, the classification is accompanied by the brief "Observations on the Three Kingdoms of Nature" which provides the principles and bases of Linnaeus' work.  In the 10th edition it was replaced by the Imperium naturae.

The System of Nature, 
or the 
Three Kingdoms of  Nature, 
Systematically Proposed, 
in Classes, Orders, Genera, and Species.

Corpus Hirsutum. Pedes quatuor.  Feminae viviparæ, lactiseræ
Dentes primores 4 utrinque: vel nulli.
Homo. Nosce te ipsum      Europaeus albese.
    Americanus rebese.
     Asiaticus fuscus.
     Africanus nigr.
Simia.     Anteriores.    Posteriores.  
Digiti     5..............5
    Posteriores anterioribus similes
Simia cauda carens.
Papio. Satyrus.
Bradypus. Digiti  3.  vel 2.....3 Ai.      Ignavas.

Body Hairy. Feet four.  Females live birth, feed with milk
In the Form of Man.
Teeth 4 front teeth on both sides or none.
Man.Know thyself     European white.
    American red.
     Asian yellow.
     African black.
Ape.             Front.       Rear.  
Digits     5..............5
    Back and front the same
Apes without tails.
Papio. Satyrus (Apes with tails).
Cynocephalus (Dogface Baboons).
Sloth.Digits  3.  or 2.....3 Grieving.*      Shy.

"Observations on the Three Kingdoms of Nature" (1735)
I. If we consider the works of God, everyone is more than satisfied that all life is propagated from an egg, and every egg produces offspring likes its parent. Hence, no new species are produced today.

II. By generation individuals multiply. Hence, the number of the individuals of each species is today greater than at first.

III. If we count the number of individuals in each species backward in the same manner that we counted forward, the sexes end in a unico parente be it that the parent is a single hermaphrodite [unico Hermaphrodito] (as is common in plants) or be it double, male and female (as in most animals).

IV. As there are no new species (I) as the same truly begets the same (II); as one ordained from the beginning the entire species (III) it is necessary that we attribute the unity of progeny to the same omnipotent and omniscient being, namely God, whose work is Creation. The mechanisms, laws, principles, constitutions and sensations of any individual confirm this.

V. Individuals thus procreated, in their early and soft state, lack all knowledge, and are required to learn everything by their external senses. By touch they first learn the consistency of objects; taste the fluid particles; smell the volatile ones; sound: the vibrations of distant bodies; and finally sight, this ultimate sense, the shape of distinct bodies.

VI. If we look upon the universe, three objects are conspicuous: a) the distant celestial bodies b) Elements everywhere flying about c) fixed solid bodies.

VII. On our planet, of the three mentioned (VI) only two are obvious: the Elements which constitute it; and those Naturalia constructed from the elements which are inexplicable except by creation and the laws of generation.

VIII. Naturalia are rather more in the field of the senses (V) than are the others (VI) and are everywhere obvious to the other senses. And I ask why the Creator provided man with senses (V) and endowed him with intellect and placed him on the globe of earth, where his senses encounter nothing but Naturalia, formed by such an admirable and stupefying mechanism? Whether for any other reason than for us to observe the works and admire and praise their Creator?

IX. Everything herein which is of use to humans are determined by the Naturalia; hence the economy of mining or Metallurgy; Vegetable, or Agriculture and Horticulture; Animal, or the branches of animal husbandry, hunting and fishing.
In a word, it is the foundation of every economy, of construction, commerce, diet, medicine, etc. These preserve men in a sound healthy state, and preserved from disease the patient is restored by them so that their proper selection is most important. Hence (VIII, IX) the self-evident necessity of the natural sciences.

X. The first step to wisdom is to know things in themselves, this notion consists in having true idea of objects; objects are distinquished and are known by methodical classification and conventions of naming; and so classification and naming will be the foundation of our science.

XI. Those of our scientists who do not really know how to study the appropriate variations in species, the natural Species in a Genera, the Genera in Families, and yet still boast of themselves as Teachers of Science, beguile and deceive.

XII. He is called a Naturalist (Natural Historian Historicus Naturalis) who visually (V) well distinguishes the parts of Natural bodies (Corporum Naturalium) and rightly names and describes all of these according to the the three divisions [of Nature]. And to be such a man is to be a lithologist, a phytologist or a zoologist.

XIII. Natural Science is that classifying and naming (X) of Natural bodies as judiciously instituted by such a naturalist (XII).

XIV. Natural Bodies are divided into Three Kingdoms of Nature, namely the Mineral, Vegetable & Animal.

XV. Minerals grow; Plants grow and live. Animals grow, live and feel.

XVI. Many have labored all of their years in this Science of describing and illustrating, however, what quantity has already been truly observed and how much remains the curious wanderer [lustrator] will easily discover for themselves.

XVII. I have here exhibited a general conspectus of the System of Natural bodies and so lack the space, time, and opportunity to add more descriptions, but the curious reader can use this quasi-Geographical Table to know where to journey in these vast realms.

XVIII. A new method largely based on my own observations has been needed in each individual part [of this work], for I have well learned that only a very few of the observations attained from others can be readily believed.

XIX. If the curious reader is to profit from this, he should note the celebrated Dutch Botanist Dr. Joh. Fred. Gronovius as well as Mr. Isac. Lawson, the learned Scot; I grant that it is for these authors that I have communicated these brief tables and observations to the learned world.

XX. If we discover that it would be pleasing to the illustrious and curious reader, he may expect more special and more polished publications, especially in botany, from me.

 Sources for this draft translation:

Bendyshe, T.  1863-64.  "On the History of Anthropology."  Memoirs read before the Anthropological Society of London, 1863-64.  London: Truber and Co., pp.335-459  [Part II: On the Anthropology of Linnaeus,  1735-1776. pp.421-459].

Caroli Linnaei, Sveci, Doctoris Medicinae systema naturae, sive, Regna tria naturae systematice proposita per classes, ordines, genera, & species. (1735) http://archive.org/details/mobot31753002972252

Carolus Linnaeus, 1735, Systema Natura 1735 facsimile Edition with an introduction of the "Observationes" by Dr. M. S. J. Engel-Ledeboer and Dr. H. Engel. Nieuwkoop: B. de Gaaf.

James Sydney Slotkin. 1965. Readings In Early Anthropology. Psychology Press.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Eight classic works from Archive.org


Eight Classic works in the History of Science from the Internet Archive (archive.org)

Murray, Robert H. 1925.  Science And Scientists In The Nineteenth Century.  The Sheldon Press.

Sarton, George.  1948.  The life of science; essays in the history of civilization. New York: H. Schuman.

__________.  1952.  A guide to the history of science; a first guide for the study of the history of science, with introductory essays on science and traditionWaltham, Mass.:Chronica Botanica Co. 

Singer, Charles Joseph.  1917.  Studies in the history and method of science.   Oxford: Clarendon Press.

 __________.  1941.  A Short History Of Science To The Nineteenth Century.
Oxford University Press

Thorndike, Lynn.  1923.  A History of Magic and Experimental Science, v.1-8  New York: Macmillan.
Wightman,William P.D. 1953.   The Growth Of Scientific IdeasNew Haven: Yale University Press.

Wright, John Kirtland.  1925.  The geographical lore of the time of the crusades; a study in the history of medieval science and tradition in western Europe.  New York: American Geographical Society.

John Glassie with Leonard Lopate on Athanasius Kircher


A Man of Misconceptions  
Monday, December 10, 2012

John Glassie speaks with Lenny Lopate about his book on Athanasius Kircher  
A Man of Misconceptions: The life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change.

Engraving of Vesuvius by Kircher from his Mundus Subterraneus

see also the Earth Observatory:
"Happy birthday, Athanasius Kircher April 30th, 2012 by Michon Scott"

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Paradoxa from the Systema natura by Linnaeus (1735)

The Paradoxa are the various species Linnaeus did not include in his Systema Natura because he judged them to be either fabulous, the result of mistaken observations by travelers or as in the case of the Hamburg hydra, simply fraudulent. It is not a complete break with the past, however, if we notice that his classification of the Anthropomorphia included several fabulous species of human that can be traced back as far as Pliny the Elder and his sources. That will be the subject of the next post. The following is a draft translation of the Paradoxa from the first edition of the Systema Natura.

 The Paradoxa 
from the 
Systema natura 
HYDRA: snake-like body, two feet, seven heads and as many necks, without wings. One is preserved in Hamburg similar to the Hydra described in the Apocalypse of St. John, Chapters 12 and 13, and this is also true of a great many animal species exhibited, but wrongly so. Nature is always true to itself and has never naturally produced several heads on one body. When seen for ourselves, the fraud and artifice was most easily revealed as the teeth of a wild weasel differ from those of an Amphibian.

Albertus Seba, Locupletissimi Rerum Naturalium Thesauri (1734) 
The Hydra of Hamburg that Linnaeus describes.

RANA: the Frog-Fish, or the metamorphosis of a frog into a fish, is very paradoxical for nature will not permit the change of one Genus into another class. Frogs, like other Amphibians, possess lumps and spiny bones. Spiny fishes possess gills instead of lungs. Therefore, this mutation is contrary to the laws of Nature. If a fish is provided with gills it will be different from frogs and other Amphibians. If given lungs, it will be a lizard. There is a complete difference between them and the Chondropterygiis & Plagiuris.

The Frog-Fish from Surinam (1776)

MONOCEROS: Unicorn, one horn, body of a horse, feet of a fierce beast. Horn straight, long, spiraled. It is a painter’s fiction. Artedi’s Monodon has a horn, but there are a multitude of differences between them.

PELECANUS: (Pelican) with its beak inflicts a wound to its own thigh. The blood that flows relieves the thirst of its young; from the same fabulous tradition. The fable comes from the sac under its gullet that it uses to distribute the food.

SATYR: the tailed Satyr, hairy, bearded, with a human-like body, given to vigorous (wildly lustful?) gesticulations, is a species of Simiae, if indeed anyone has ever seen this apparition. 

Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1731)

Pygmanus, Satyrus, Lucifer, Troglodyta from Christianus Emmanuel Hoppius (Christian Emanuel Hoppe) Dissertatio Academica in qua Anthropomorpha, Consens. Experient. Facult. Medic. in Reg. Academ Upsallensi, Præside viro noblilissimo atque experientissimo Dn. Doct. Carolo Linnæo.... Upsala, 1760.
Simia to Homo: from C. F. Hoppe's Anthropomorpha -1760

BOROMETZ or Scythian Lamb: a plant shaped like a lamb, its stem seizes the “umbilicum” of another plant as it erupts from the earth; thoughtlessly said to contain blood and to be eaten by wild animals. It is composed from the roots of American ferns. Although naturally the allegorical description of the sheep embryo has the same characteristics attributed to it.

PHOENIX: a species of bird, of which only one individual exists in the world, and sick with the gloom of the grave, builds a pyre of spices and is fabled to live again the happy life of the young. It is, however, the Date Palm, Palma dactylifera (see Kaempf).
British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix, Folio 49v

BERNICLA: same as Scottish Goose and the Barnacle (duck barnacle), believed by the ancients to come to life from rotten wood tossed into the sea. On the contrary, the color of the sea weed Lepas that it has imposed its feathery entrails upon and its mode of adhering to it make Bernicla seem to originate from that source.

DRACO: Dragon, with an eel-like body, two feet and two bat-like wings, is a Lacerta alata or a Ray that through artifice has been shaped and dried into a fictional monster.

AUTOMA MORTIS: the Death-watch, producing the sound of a clock in the walls, it is called Pediculus pulsationris, burrows into the wood frame of homes and lives on in the wood.

“I kept quite still and said nothing. For another hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear the old man lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, listening; — just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death-watches in the wall.” Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

Sources for this draft translation:

Caroli Linnaei, Sveci, Doctoris Medicinae systema naturae, sive, Regna tria naturae systematice proposita per classes, ordines, genera, & species. (1735) http://archive.org/details/mobot31753002972252

Carolus Linnaeus, 1735, Systema Natura 1735 facsimile Edition with an introduction of the "Observationes" by Dr. M. S. J. Engel-Ledeboer and Dr. H. Engel. Nieuwkoop: B. de Gaaf.

James Sydney Slotkin. 1965. Readings In Early Anthropology. Psychology Press.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Talk: The Life Sciences, the Origins of Race, and the History of Sociology (2000)

[It is both fun and a curse to look back to graduate school when a project was in its early stages and see all the things one would change.  However, the general outline is still good and the next phase will focus more on early sociology.  And so, an early presentation of what would later become the manuscript for Until Darwin. I've added links some more recent pieces at the end. Updated 11/11/12]

The Life Sciences, the Origins of Race,and the History of Sociology
B. Ricardo Brown

Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies 
Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies Pratt Institute 
Brooklyn, New York 
Prepared for the Section on Marxist Sociology Roundtables, 
Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Washington D.C.
August 2000

The relationship between sociology and Social Darwinism is often assumed but it is not very well understood.  Many simply passed it off as a forgotten dead end.  It was Parsons who said that “no one reads Spencer anymore”.  And it is Parsons who explains this forgetting of Spencer as an evolutionary triumph of sociology.  Sociology did not emerge from Social Darwinism. Sociology and Social Darwinism share common origins in Spencer, political economy, discourses on government, and scientific disputes,especially the species question and the question that consumed American biology in the 19th century: monogenesis versus polygenesis.Given this range of origins, I was lead to question the notion of social Darwinism as it relates to Darwin’s intervention into the monogenesis/polygenesis debate. This debate is essential to understanding the scientific ideology of race.  Race was the central problem in the American approach to the species question.

The species question

Slavery was a driving force behind the debate between the mongenists and the polygenists, but the debate over the origins of humans and the classification of their diversity had been well underway in its modern form since the 18th century (which owed earlier descriptions and representations of the Plinian races). It was not the Civil War that ended the monogenesis/polygenesis debate (as Stanton says in his The Leopard’s Spots, which remains one of the best works on the subject), but Darwin. Only the species question was to later reemerge from its repression with the work of Lombroso and Weissmann.  It is often stated that Darwin broke with Lamarck and Natural History, but the origin of species----modification by descent vs. creation vs. successive creation----was the question of Darwin’s time, and Lamarckism was not the subject of polemics from the pro-evolution side. (Darwin to some degree followed Lamarck, most notably in Darwin’s theory of pangenesis.)

You might in fact read Darwin’s Origins as an anti-slavery argument. He was opposed to slavery.(Admiral Fitzroy, an originator of modern meteorological instruments and Captain of the Beagle was a vocal proponent of slavery and the superiority of the European. Darwin, who was hired on not as the official naturalist, but rather the dinner and social companion of the Captain, noted in letter to his sister how unbearable it was to be endure these social gatherings with the Captain.  Natural and sexual selection as described in the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man destroyed the polygenic theory. At the same it demolished and replaced religious basis of monogenesis. The central enlightened argument for the abolition of slavery now had a scientific basis in the origin of the human species itself. Darwin is often characterized as apolitical, but politics has no limit in theory. He says in the
Descent of Man
...we may conclude that when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and the polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death (Descent of Man, 541)The biology appropriated by sociology was not Darwinism, although it shares certain terminology and concerns.

The discursive formation of sociology and biology was concerned with continuity: progress and degeneration. Darwinism, on the other hand, is concerned with discontinuity: species, extinction,isolation, and selection.  This makes me look at sociology in a new way. Instead of seeing the period before the crisis in Western Sociology as having been one where bad sociology appropriated bad science, I began to see it as a bio-social discourse more or less autonomous from the discourse of Darwinism. This lead me to return to the history of sociology and of race from a different perspective.  Darwin’s was an anti-slavery argument that destroyed the scientific and religious discourses on race. But the history of race appears in the context of a general assumption of bio-social progress and degeneration. It is degeneracy and not natural selection that supported Eugenics, and the linkage between the two sciences of society are profound. In particular, I want to focus on degeneration as it appears in sociology because it has not yet had a thorough treatment .  To understand the relationship of sociology, the life sciences and race in America, you have to trace through the formation and transformations of a scientific ideology that unites;

1) Discourses on nature and life (biology, medicine, Natural History, and ecology)

2) Discourses on the forces of social life, both the rational forces (those which are allied Enlightenment with the universals of Enlightenment Reason, History, Consciousness, and Reason) as well as the irrational forces (e.g., the instincts, the id [e.g., A. Wiessmann as opposed to Freud’s concept,] the mob, the mass) and also rationalized irrationality (e.g., the market and the social anarchy of capitalist production, psychological therapy)

3) Discourses on the stability of society, or inertia (e.g., Parsonian sociology, or more generally,bourgeois morality, the morality of community described by Nietzsche in the second essay of the Genealogy of Morals and by Marx in The Holy Family, the rhetorics of stability, progress, and degeneration).  If you understand how these work, then you can begin to understand the relation between the scientific discourses on race, the sociological ones (sociology in the broadest sense, as the definition of sociology narrows over time in proportion to the need to clean up its pantheon of fallen gods like Sumner, Spencer, Comte, Giddings, Cooley, Sorokin, Lombroso, etc. Feagin in his Presidential Address last night did exactly this, but of course it was only for the best of reasons, as his goal was to remember forgotten sociologists of the left) and together with the media’s re-presentation, we can discern more clearly how the history of this social relation weighs like a nightmare on the mind of the living today.

Before you can discuss race, you must first discuss science, for race does not precede science, rather, science first establishes race --- at least race as we understand it today. We must ask “What is the bio-social discourse on race and what is the origin of its authority?”rather than “What is race?” By implication, this raises all sorts of questions for Marxist theory that claims science as its authority. Perhaps this is why the race question (and the woman question too) were deferred for so long by the Parties. It is not that addressing them would have distracted us from our critique of a more fundamental problems, as was so often claimed, but because addressing them would have called into question the scientific authority on which orthodox marxism rested.

 See these more recent works as well.  Much changed over the time:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Notes on Royal Society’s “Types of Mankind” post

Marginal Notes on Royal Society’s “Types of Mankind”: science and race in the 18th and 19th centuries 

Of course it is always important to remember that the errors of the past as well as the triumphs (or heroes, which has been the subject of a series of recent blog posts elsewhere: see, e.g., posts by  and  Rebekah Higgitt @beckyfh  "Why whiggish won't do" ) often do not in hindsight seem so triumphal or heroic.  The Royal Society’s post coincided with the death of J. P. Rushton and so serves to remind us that the errors of the past do not simply “go way”.  So it is good that the Royal Society blog chose to bring attention to Josiah Nott and George R. Gliddon’s Types of Mankind, or, Ethnological researches : based upon the ancient monuments, paintings, sculptures, and crania of races, and upon their natural, geographical, philological, and biblical history and the polygenist scientific ideology which like that of the eugenicists still haunt us.

And this is a good reason to spend a few moments adding some marginal notes to the Royal Society’s post because it is difficult to address such issues, especially when the prompt is Black History Month(*) with its competing audiences and demands.

Perhaps it is a result of competing demands and audiences – as  is so often the case! – that some aspects of polygenism are not always so obvious in the post.  It is easy to overemphasize either the discontinuities and continuities of the polygenic theory when we try to make sense of its place in classical Natural History and later Biology (and Sociology, too).  There are aspects of Natural History that are very familiar to us and yet are also indicative of fundamentally different ways of understanding the world.  Though it is tempting to simply project categories such as biology and figures such as the scientist into the past, classical Natural History was not the study of life and the figure of the scientist as we know it did not exist.  The scientist as a term appears at the highpoint of classical Natural History, but it is not until we have the study of life that we can finally recognize the scientist as we know it.(**)  Instead of the conflation of time and perspectives found in the initial paragraph, it would be better to go further and understand the “study of race” and the catalogs of differences generated by such studies as having more than simply fascinated the 18th and 19th centuries: it was a central object of Natural History.  The “study of race” consolidated race as a object of rational scientific analysis within the confines of classical Natural History just as it does today in the case of race and biology.  The authority of Natural History as a science derived in part from its offer of satisfactory “systematic rules to describe and explain the differences” European nation-states found during their global expansion.  “Race and racial differences” became the means to systematically understand human variety, and provide an answer the Species Question. 

Forgetting this is one reason why it appears to us that “discussions of race have always been tied up with perceptions of morality, intelligence, and civilization” because race has been used since the 17th-18th centuries as the means to make sense of differences and to legitimize moralities and scientific ideologies.  So it is only correct to say that race has “always been tied up with perceptions of morality, intelligence, and civilization” precisely because it appears alongside and within those “perceptions” (i. e., social relations).  After all, race is itself a scientific ideology in Canguilhem’s sense of the term: 
“For many scholars the notion of scientific ideology is still controversial.  By it I mean a discourse that parallels the development of a science and that, under the pressure of pragmatic needs, makes statements that go beyond what has actually been proved by research.  In relation to science itself it is both presumptuous and misplaced.  Presumptuous because it believes that the end has been reached when research in fact stands at the beginning.  Misplaced because when the achievements of science actually do come, they are not in the areas where the ideology thought they would be, nor are they achieved in the manner predicted by the ideology” (Canguilhem Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences, pp. 57-58).
So it is more correct to say that race has “always” played its present role only if one takes as one’s historical era the  c.17th - 20th centuries.

Often the discussion of human variety is taken out of this historical and social context so as to be seen as a choice between a “purely biological concept’ and “at least in part – a social and cultural construction”.  Rather than this simple binary relation, Nature and Society are dialectically related, i. e., they are mutually constitutive.  The one would be impossible without the other, and in our time the fields of biology, anthropology, psychology, and sociology mark this relation through their incessant search for human nature.  Understanding this is key to understanding how race so fascinating to Naturalists and why it seemed to hold the answer to the Species Question.

It was consistent with the work the tendencies of the preceding work in natural History and medicine that Nott and Gliddon asserted that “the difficulties respecting the races of men are not peculiar to the question of man, but involve the investigation of the whole animal kingdom”.  If we could understand the mechanism and meaning of human variety, it was believed, then we could understand variety in nature as a whole.  The polygenic theory – that the races represented five different species with separate origins and with fixed characteristics – was already the accepted view when Nott and Gliddon wrote Indigenous Races. They had in fact contributed greatly to the success of the polygenic theory with their Types of Mankind as had Samuel Morton with his Crania Americana and Crania Aegyptica

This was the accepted approach to the Species Question in the years before the Origin of Species that species are fixed and that races constitute separate species with separate origins in either nature or creation. 
It may be of interest that Indigenous Races was the follow up to Types of Mankind,  which was a monumental work in terms of its contributors, scope, and dedication to Samuel G. Morton.  It ws the pinnacle of the work of the American School and the summation of the polygenic theory of human origins and the fixity of species.  It would only be pushed aside by Darwin’s Origin of Species,  a “capital dig at the parsons” Nott wrote in 1861.  As Darwin would later admit in the Descent of Man,  the polygenic theory had been the target of his on monogenic argument for descent with modification:  ‘... when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death.’ (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 235)  Indigenous Races came at the end of the polygenic era rather than at the beginning, which is an impression that the section might leave with a casual reader.  In fact, the following reference to Long’s 1774 History of Jamaica itself indicates that Nott and Gliddon came at the end of a long period of rational and scientific investigations.  It is between the publication of Types of Mankind and Indigenous Races that we discover Gobineau’s Essai sur l’inegalite des races humaines. 
Indigenous Races was for the most part the work of George Gliddon.  Nott was not interested in revisiting what he considered to be the established scientific fact of the multiple origins of the races, while  Gliddon was less a naturalist than a showman, popularizer, and former diplomat who idolized Samuel G. Morton to the point of robbing Egyptian tombs and graves for crania to send to Morton.  He died not long after the publication of Indigenous Races from fever having sought his fortune in Central America where he had gone frustrated that he had not been selected to implement one of his projects: a camel corp for the US army to deploy in the deserts of the Southwest.

From William Stanton’s The Leopard’s Spots, still one of the best works on the American School, on Indigenous Races ***

Nott blamed unfavorable reviews of Types of Mankind on Gliddon’s ‘very impolitic & undignified tone [in attacking religion],’ and expressed the wish that [George] Squire instead of Gliddon had been his collaborator.... Nott and Gliddon’s new book, Indigenous Races of the Earth, appeared in early 1857.  Nott was disgusted that ‘in spite of all sorts of pledges,’ Gliddon had ‘pitched into the Bible and [the] Parsons again,’ and hoped ‘most devoutly’ that he would ‘never hear the words Mono- & Polygenist again.  ‘I have no longer any doubt about his insanity on this subject,’ he wrote Squire.  Although hardly more sane on the subject himself, Nott was justified in his criticism of Indigenous Races – nearly all of which was written by Gliddon – as all ‘folly & confusion.”  The book is a great conglomeration of discourses and diatribes strung out with long and irrelevant digression and written in Gliddon’s style of ponderous ostentation.  Agassiz contributed a brief letter on geographical distribution; Joseph Leidy, who had no desire to become embroiled in the controversy, sent a short letter on paleontology; Alfred Maury, librarian of the French Institute, wrote a chapter on the philological evidence for diversity [of species]; Francis Pulszky, fellow of the Hungarian Academy and personal secretary to Loius Kossuth, contributed a letter on archeology; Dr. James Aitken Meigs, now curator of Morton’s collection, wrote a chapter on craniology; and Nott,complaining that he had exhausted his fund of information in Types of Mankind, contributed only one chapter, despite the fact that he was listed as co-author.  Gliddon wrote the rest.” (Stanton, pp.175-76.)

Nott’s attention had been drawn to the publication of Gobineau’s Essai sur l’inegalite just 2 years after Types of Mankind.  Nott sensed that the polygenic theory had so won the day that the dispute with religion would soon end in favor of the polygenists.  There was no reason to continue arguing with John Bachman (see related posts below) and others. 

...Nott was busy with another enterprise.  In 1856 he had a new acquaintance, a young Swiss immigrant named Henry Hotz, sometime Mobile [Alabama] newspaperman, secretary to the United States legation in Belgium, and later to be Confederate propogandist extraordinary in England and France.  Together they brought out a one-volume American edition of Arthur de Gobineau’s four-volume  Essai sur l’inegalite des races humaines, the bible of nineteenth-century racists.  While Hotz translated, Nott evidently selected those passages which gave most support to his own position.  The book was dedicated ‘to the Statesmen of America,’ for Hotz thought instruction in ethnology especially important in America, which had long been the abode of three races and was rapidly becoming that of a fourth – the Chinese, who were streaming into California. (Stanton, pp.174-75.)

Like Types of Mankind, Gorbineau’s  Essai sur l’inegalite drew on Morton’s cranial studies and the appearance of these works and many others like them is an indication of the importance of the problem of human variety.  However, Gobineau and Nott disagreed about Morton’s work.  Gobineau may have  hierarchically arranged the races, but he, according to Nott, seriously misread Morton.  Gobineau relied on second hand accounts of Morton’s work and would not abandon his religious convictions, Nott pointed out, and did not have sufficient knowledge of Natural History.  Nott and Hotz together published their one volume abridgment of Gobineau’s  Essai sur l’inegalite with Nott adding an appendix correcting what he saw as Gobineau’s misunderstanding of Morton, Natural History, and polygenism.

Count Gobineau, therefore, accepts the existing diversity of races as at least an accomplished fact and draws lessons of wisdom from the plain teachings of history. Man with him ceases to be an abstraction; each race, each nation, is made a separate study, and a fertile but unexplored field is opened to our view.
Our author leans strongly towards a belief in the original diversity of races, but has evidently been much embarrassed in arriving at conclusions by religious scruples and by the want of accurate knowledge in that part of natural history which treats of the designation of species and the laws of hybridity; he has been taught to believe that two distinct species cannot produce perfectly prolific offspring, and therefore concludes that all races of men must be of one origin, because they are prolific inter se. My appendix will therefore be devoted mainly to this question of species....

Our author has taken the facts of Dr. Morton at second hand, and, moreover, had not before him Dr. Morton's later tables and more matured deductions....

Just as important to observe is Nott’s advocacy of free scientific inquiry:

Mr. Gobineau remarks (p. 361), that he has very serious doubts as to the unity of origin. “These doubts, however,” he continues, “I am compelled to repress, because they are in contradiction to a scientific fact, which I cannot refute—the prolificness of halfbreeds ; and secondly, what is of much greater weight with me, they impugn a religious interpretation sanctioned by the church.”

....I shall venture on a few remarks upon this last scruple of the author, which is shared by many investigators of this interesting subject.

‘The strict rule of scientific scrutiny,’ says the most learned and formidable opponent in the adversary's camp, ‘exacts, according to modern philosophers, in matters of inductive reasoning, an exclusive homage. It requires that we should close our eyes against all presumptive and exterior evidence, and abstract our minds from all considerations not derived from the matters of fact which bear immediately on the question. The maxim we have to follow in such controversies is  ‘fiat justitia, ruat coelum.’ [“Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”] In fact, what is actually true, it is always desirous to know, whatever consequences may arise from its admission" (citing Prichard, Nat. Hist. of Man, p. 8. London, 1843)

To this sentiment I cheerfully subscribe: it has always been my maxim. Yet I find it necessary, in treating of this subject, to touch on its biblical connections, for although "we have great reason to rejoice at the improved tone of toleration, or even liberality which prevails in this country, the day has not come when science can be severed from theology, and the student of nature can calmly follow her truths, no matter whither they may lead. What a mortifying picture do we behold in the histories of astronomy, geology, chronology, cosmogony, geographical distribution of animals, &c.; they have been compelled to fight their way, step by step, through human passion and prejudice, from their supposed contradiction to Holy Writ. But science has been vindicated—their great truths hare been established, and the Bible stands as firmly as it did before. The last great struggle between science and theology is the one we are now engaged in—the natural history of man—it has now, for the first time, a fair hearing before Christendom, and all any question should ask is "daylight and fair play."

The Bible should not be regarded as a text-book of natural history. On the contrary, it must be admitted that none of the writers of the Old or New Testament give the slightest evidence of knowledge in any department of science beyond that of their profane contemporaries; and we hold that the natural history of man is a department of science which should be placed upon the same footing with others, and its facts dispassionately investigated. What we require for our guidance in this world is truth, and the history of science shows how long it has been stifled by bigotry and error. (Nott in Hotz/Gobineau, pp.505-6)

The study of race and the demand for “free scientific inquiry” are not easily disentangled and Nott’s call sounds at times suspiciously like the chants of scientists like Rushton, although Nott directed his demand towards tradition and religious authority while Rushton directed his towards rational inquiry itself.

Works such as Types of Mankind and Indigenous Races are just some of the many texts, institutions, and social relations that were important for defining race and its use as the basis for the classifications of human variety.  We find the Species Question permeating the great and minor works of Natural History, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries just as we find slavery and domination.

(*)  Black History Month – which for our purposes we should take to mean not only the history of Black people, but also the retrieval of the former truths that we would repress or forget.  Certainly this should be a consistent activity, just as Black history should not be ghettoized to one month a year.  At least, it is not, as in the United States, observed during the shortest month of the year.

(**) Some are attempting to reform Natural History and take it away from the Natural/travel log/memoirist writers, but this will be a fundamentally different Natural History, one whose practitioners will already be aware of the variability of species, natural & sexual selection, descent with modification, the expanded fossil record, genetics, the germ theory of disease, the unity of humans as one species, etc.  The list could be extended further, but that should suffice to note that these efforts will, if successful, be a very different Natural History.

(***) Stephen Jay Gould based the historical aspects of his Mismeasure of Man chapter on Morton on Stanton’s text.  Stanton provided a wealth of information and insights, but his purposes were not the same as Gould’s and Gould could have benefited from reading Morton, Nott, et al. in more detail. 

Canguilhem, Georges, 1988.  Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences.  Cambridge: MIT Press.

Cussins, Jessica. "Race and Medicine guidelines Using Race in Medicine? Seven Guidelines for Doing so Responsibly"

Gobineau, Arthur, comte de. 1853.  Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines (1884 ed.).  Paris : Firmin-Didot

Gobineau, Arthur, comte de.  1856.  The moral and intellectual diversity of races, with particular reference to their respective influence in the civil and political history of mankind / from the French by Count A. De Gobineau; with an analytical introduction and copious historical notes by H. Hotz; to which is added an appendix containing a summary of the latest scientific facts bearing upon the question of unity or plurality of species by J. C. Nott (1856). J. B. Lippincott.

Long, Edward. 1774. The history of Jamaica or, General survey of the antient and modern state of the island: with reflections on its situation settlements, inhabitants, climate, products, commerce, laws, and government. London : T. Lownudes

Morton, Samuel George and George Combe.  1839.  Crania americana; or, A comparative view of the skulls of various aboriginal nations of North and South America. To which is prefixed an essay on the varieties of the human species. Philadelphia, J. Dobson; London, Simpkin, Marshall & co.

Morton, Samuel George. 1844. Crania Aegyptiaca: Or, Observations on Egyptian Ethnography.  J. Penington

Morton, Samuel George. 1840.  Catalogue of skulls of man and the inferior animals in the collection of Samuel George Morton.  Philadelphia : Printed by Turner & Fisher for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Nott, Josiah Clark, 1804-1873; Gliddon, George R. (George Robins); Morton, Samuel George; Agassiz, Louis; Usher, William; Patterson, Henry S. (Henry Stuart). 1851.  Types of mankind, or, Ethnological researches : based upon the ancient monuments, paintings, sculptures, and crania of races, and upon their natural, geographical, philological, and biblical history.
Philadelphia : J.B. Lippincott

Nott, Josiah Clark, 1804-1873; Gliddon, George R. 1857.  Indigenous races of the earth; or, New chapters of ethnological inquiry; including monographs on special departments. Philadelphia : J.B. Lippincott & Co.; [etc., etc.]

Prichard, James Cowles and Edwin Norris. 1855.  The Natural History of Man: Comprising Inquiries Into the Modifying Influence of Physical and Moral Agencies of the Different Tribes of the Human Family.  Paris: H. Baillière.

Stanton, William.  1960.  The Leopard’s Spots: Scientific Attitudes Toward Race in America, 1815-1859.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Related posts from this blog:

A Short Biography of John Bachman (1790-1874)

On Josiah Nott

Diversity, Culture, Theory, and Data: Science on Human Variety.
B. Ricardo Brown and Christopher X J. Jensen
SLAS Faculty Research Seminar

Maria Martin Bachman's sketches and paintings for Audubon: On-line Exhibition from the Charleston County Public Library

Audubon's Birds and some often Overlooked Contributions of Women to Natural History

Podcast - Charleston's Women Naturalists: Jennifer Scheetz, Archivist, Charleston Museum

Comment II on “Gould versus Morton”: Morton’s Crania Collection in the Context of the Final Decades of Natural History, Part One.