Social Darwinism could be viewed as an abuse or misinterpretation of Darwin s evolutionary theory to justify racial superiority. The origin of evolution s supposed justification of racism is addressed in Jeynes article Race, Racism, and Darwinism (2011). Did a racist approach to evolutionary theory originate after Darwin s proposed theories with the application of eugenics? Or did Darwin himself propose evolutionary theory as a scientific means to justify racism?
Academic institutions are directly involved in the production of knowledge and often set the standard of what is truthful and untruthful. Most western academic institutions teach evolutionary theory to students at both the secondary and post-secondary levels without a second-thought. Those who contest evolutionary theory are often not taken seriously in the scientific realm. Jeynes is not arguing as to whether or not evolutionary theory is correct, rather, he advocates for the dark side of evolutionary theory the inherently racist aspect- to also be underscored to students so that they can see the broader implications of this scientific theory (2011, p. 554).
Jeynes takes the disciplinary approach of an educator as he has a doctorate degree in education. He has written this research article based on other philosopher s essays and analyses and the written work of Charles Darwin. He uses the information that he has collected from a wide range of sources to clearly articulate how Darwin s Theory of Evolution has heavily influenced major institutions in their acceptance of racist ideology. This makes Jeynes article (2011) important to analyze for modern day, as institutional racism is currently of important debate in the media and academia.
Main concepts in Jeyne s article include Darwin s original written work, evolutionary theorists to follow Darwin, institutionalized racism/discrimination in education, and eugenics.
Origin of Species, or originally known as On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of the Flavoured Races in the Struggle for Life (Jeynes, 2011, p. 536) contains much of Darwin s inherently racist thought. Jeynes (2011) quotes directly from Darwin s Origin of Species, saying I could not have believed how wide was the difference between the savage and the civilised man. It is wider than between a wild and domesticated animal (p. 537). The superiority of different human races was integral to Darwin s evolutionary theory and is openly stated in his written work (Jeyne, 2011, p. 537). Having a scientific theory as the foundation for racist ideology helped feign objective logic (Jeynes, 2011, p. 538). Darwin also went on to predict that Blacks would be the first human race to go extinct since they were the least evolved; Whites, on the other hand, would go extinct but would carry the human race to the next stage of evolution (Jeynes, 2011, p. 536). It was through Darwin s experiences with people of colour whose mouths frothed with excitement that Darwin came to the conclusion that we must have evolved from apes (Jeynes, 2011, p. 537). Darwin s The Descent of Man is quoted by Jeyne (2011), saying the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races (p. 544). Darwin s theories directly brought forth the notion that different human races were inferior based on a supposed biological or evolutionary- standpoint. Imperialism and colonization were directly justified by Darwin s theories because Darwin stated that not all races were capable of civilization; this led to the White race s acceptance of its fatherly responsibility (Jeynes, 2011, p. 545). Racial superiority was fueled by Darwinian theory and provided justification for colonization of childlike, inferior races (Jeynes, 2011, p. 545). According to Jeynes (2011) and his research on evolutionary theory, Darwin s theory actively produced scientific knowledge that provided a foundation for racist ideology to further take root.
Other leading evolutionists to follow Darwin, Sir Francis Galton, asserted that the smarted dog was smarter than the dumbest human (Jeynes, 2011, p. 543). Galton is deriving these conclusions from his own personal observations in the name of scientific theory (Jeynes, 2011, p. 543). Jeynes (2011) uses the term evolutionist and Darwinist somewhat interchangeably since Jeynes is arguing that both are racist ideologies based on the notion of natural selection. Jeynes (2011) goes on to explain the uprising of Darwinists and how Darwinists concluded that since Blacks are the least evolved human race, Blacks are also the most archaic and therefore have the most criminal tendencies (p. 543). Jeynes (2011) goes on to quote former US Secretary of State William Jennings Bryant: Darwinism had a brutalizing and degrading effect on people (p. 545). Herbert Spencer, the man to coin the term survival of the fittest , believed that evolution provided the needed scientific justification of racism (Jeynes, 2011, p. 538). Darwin was not the only one to use the scientific theory of evolution to propagate racial hierarchy.
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