Term Paper: Race Critical Theory Race Critical Theories

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Race Critical Theory

Race Critical Theories

In "The Problems with Racism," Martin Barker takes on British separatist political attitudes, challenging the assumption that separatist attitudes are less harmful than outright prejudice. He believes that, by reassuring people that nationalism and separatisms are natural phenomenon, these theories essentially reassure people that it is permissible to want to hold oneself apart from others deemed different. Furthermore, he also discusses how different studies, including science and philosophy, have impact on race issues. Barker believes that ethology's correspondence with sociobiology is significant and that the different approaches the two studies take to the natural role of aggression in society is significant. Barker also emphasizes the interrelationship between philosophy and Darwinian evolution, and suggests that, when discussing evolution, it is important to distinguish between adaptiveness and adaptability. In addition, Barker talks about the politics of philosophy, and the implications that occur when a philosophy becomes politicized.

It is really difficult to determine whether or not Barker's position on race is tenable. He offers some support for the idea that how a particular ethnic theory practically impacts race relations can be partially determined by the racial attitudes of the theory's creator. For example, he discusses the philosopher David Hume, and states that Hume was "a racist, both in his personal attitudes and also in the content of his philosophy." (Barker, p. 87). However, he also discusses Wittgenstein's "concept of a 'form of life'" and how its self-validating features fit into the idea of racism as a way of life, but acknowledges that there is no evidence that Wittgenstein was a racist. (Barker, p. 89). As a result, Barker appears to conclude that the ideas themselves are more important than the personal beliefs of their authors. However, Barker does not elaborate enough on these underlying theories to enable the reader to determine whether the philosophers and scientists in question have simply elaborated on the concept that stereotyping and racism exist, or have gone so far as to posit that stereotyping and racism are inevitable. Lacking that additional information, the reader really cannot agree or disagree with Barker's statements.

In contrast, Cornel West takes a very scientific approach to one facet of racism; a genealogical approach to white supremacy in the West. He concludes that "the emergence of the idea of white supremacy in the modern West can [not] be fully accounted for in terms of the psychological needs of white individuals and groups or the political and economic interests of the ruling class." (West, p. 92). Instead, West believes that the powers within the structure of modern discourse "set perimeters and draw boundaries for the intelligibility, availability, and legitimacy of certain ideas." (West, p. 92). By suggesting that these powers are subjectless, West suggests that the discourse itself may be relatively autonomous for the subject matter of the discourse, and the goals and aims of humans involved in the subjects. Even more interesting, West believes that "there is no direct correspondence between nondiscursive structures, such as a system of production... And discursive structures such as theoretical formations. (West, p.92). Instead, West believes that the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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