Friday, February 18, 2011


It seems evident to me that race, much like religious or national affiliations, is nothing more than a socially constructed identity. We identify ourselves just as much as we identify everything else we can think of. Each classification we impose distinguishes objects from one another by exposing and dividing characteristics into haves and have nots. Speaking broadly, I may first distinguish all the ideas I can think of from those of which I am incapable of thinking. The former I may continue to pursue, while the latter I disregard for I would be wasting my time by definition in trying to think about them. Plausible ideas may still consume a seemingly endless air of possibility. Let us divide these ideas into ideas of particulars, that is, ideas corresponding to singular and specific objects, i.e. my car, Poplar Ave, and Gus's Chicken, and ideas about ideas, general categories or attributes that do not exist in themselves but rather describe object, such as "fresh" "busy" and "delicious". If I start with a particular, I can infer certain qualities or ideas related to that object. My car is white; it misses a hubcap and has a DOO WOP bumper sticker. These are qualities my car possesses but that are not exclusive to my car. You know what white is before you see my car, and so I can tell you my car is white and you can picture a white car. Conversely we may begin with a general category and from there derive specifics. In the category of Potent Portables, for example, I may include handguns, even my handgun.
But the original division between particulars and qualifying ideas might be a bit oversimplified. Indeed, while I cannot find the essence of greenness in nature, I can still conceive of its idea as being a specific idea. In this sense I can treat it as a particular in that I can form ideas about it. Blue and yellow dyes blend into green. Further, categories can arise from scratch. We’ve seen this with the creation of divisions of race. It is also the case that there was no such thing as Christians and non-Christians until after Christ. The Native Americans never identified themselves as American. This all leads me to wonder, if we make distinctions based on social constructs such as race, religion, and nationality, what sort of future distinctions might we anticipate? It seems to me that ideas necessarily precede their distinctions or divisions. Since we remain ignorant to ideas remain until they become manifest, I wonder how radically our perceptions can change? I’m reminded of the film Independence Day, and excuse me for flying into left field, but if an alien invasion ever did occur, I’m sure the difference between our two species would greatly undermine the racial variation perceived within our own.


  1. In addition to there being an innate need in us to classify objects and ideas through constructed categories, we also tend to apply specific characteristics to and associate certain adjectives and ideas with particular categories such as colors. For example the color black is usually associated with mourning, darkness, and hate. Red usually signifies power and aggression, and white denotes purity, perfection, peace, and innocence. These are just colors, but they have strong connections to these qualifiers. We must automatically associate ideas with what appears different from us and to things that we do not understand. This is done in order to explain what exists so that it makes sense to us, and so that we can properly assimilate it into our own world view.

  2. Also, going along with what you said about how Christians and non-Christians did not exist before Christ, we must also look at the fact that Blacks were not seen as evil until the examination of the Ham and Canaan story along with the rejection of Christianity by the West Africans. If religion had not played such a large role as a precedent for racist ideology, would there even have been founded the idea of racism as it is implemented in modern society?

  3. Similar to this, in philosophy of food, sex, and the body we were discussing the sensation and the understanding of thinking. It made me think about how we start identifying things since the day of our birth. Therefore, a lot of how we categorize things and stuff is based upon many brain functions and processes. For example, for color you will distinguish between white, black, yellow, purple, green, and blue; and then with the influence of the society into which you are born your knowledge and understanding of the sensation of color will depend. Therefore, I am not sure it if it possible for us to rid ourselves of the identities of things and stuff in our world, mainly because it is how the human brain makes sense of the world around it.


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