Friday, January 21, 2011

Bernier's View

Francious Bernier, as we went over in Tuesday's lecture, had a much different approach is separating individuals into different races of individuals and not in terms on the environment in which they lived. I found his thoughts on skin color in regards to Egyptians and Indians interesting, because of the way he goes about stating his assumptions. On page 2, when describing the skin color of the Egyptians and Indians, he states, " For although Egyptians, for instance, and the Indians are very black, or rather copper-colored, that colour is only an accident to them, and comes because they are constantly exposed to the sun; for those individuals who take care of themselves, and who are not obliged to expose themselves so often as the lower class, are not darker than many Spaniards." Bernier has established something more in this statement when he speaks about the reasoning for the coloration of different people's skin. If one takes care of oneself, then one will not end up with this coloration. Is he insinuating that if one is smart and knows how to take care of themselves in regard to the sun, they can ultimately stay within one race of people? We spoke about in class how Bernier seems that he wants to associate physical characteristics with moral characteristics. I also thought it was interesting how he doesn't use much science, but more his opinion. Bernier was one philosopher who went out and experienced different places and people, and obviously his thoughts revolve around what was going on in the world during the 1600s, but his thoughts seem to be according to just his standards. This is shown through how he describes women that are beautiful and what is ugly. I agree with Bernier in the fact that people should be placed with where they came from, and I think that the grouping he created seems logical.

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting point that you make about agreeing with Bernier about the fact that people should be placed with where they came from. However, wouldn't that create an unlimited variety of races? I think that since we are all more alike than different (according to Kant and Ivy's beliefs) and are already divided into several groups based on different attributes and characteristics, that it would be more feasible to group people based on similarities rather than differences. Bernier goes out of his way to try and make it seem as if his "race" is the primary race that others should have turned out to be as well. By indicating that people who have different colorations of skin are "less than perfect" or "unclean," he only makes his argument even more normative than before. He puts himself and those like him on a pedestal and looks down to critique everyone else. Just by him giving his personal opinions, Bernier still doesn't account for the fact that although he EXPECTS the whole of the second species of Africa to have thick lips, squab noses, and a blackness which is peculiar to them, he does not account for that percentage of the Africans who have broad shoulders, a flat face, a squab nose, little eyes, and three hairs of beard. Although they are African, there is still a chance, based on genetic mutation, that they can look like many of the species from the kingdoms of Aracan and Siam, etc. So, does this make the Africans truly white also?


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