Heredity, Race, and the Birth of the Modern
Routledge – 2008 – 202 pages
Series: Studies in Philosophy
This book places under sustained scrutiny some of our most basic modern assumptions about inheritance, genealogy, blood relations, and racial categories. It has at its core a deceptively simple question, one too often taken for granted: what constitutes "good" bonds among humans, and what compels us to determine them so across generations as both a physical and a metaphysical attribute? Answering this question is complex and involves a foray into a seemingly disparate array of early modern sources: from adages, common law, and literature about bloodlines and bastardy to philosophical, political, and scientific discourses that both confirm and confound the "common sense" of familial, communal, national, and racial identity.
Introduction: Generating the Good
Chapter One: Legal Fictions of Genealogy
Chapter Two: Mothers Have Animals, Fathers Have Heirs
Chapter Three: Questions of Kind: A Human Species
Chapter Four: Questions of Kind: (family) Race (species)
Chapter Five: Genealogical Purification
Chapter Six: Medical Police and Hybridization
Chapter Seven: Literary Insight: Brotherhood, the End of Tolerance
Postscript: Heredity’s Time
Sara Eigen Figal is on the faculty of the German Department at Vanderbilt University. She is co-editor (with Mark Larrimore) of The German Invention of Race, a collection of essays on eighteenth-century science, philosophy, political theory, and literature, published with SUNY Press.