Re: [asa] Racial Hygiene and Science

From: dfsiemensjr <>
Date: Tue Sep 08 2009 - 17:16:54 EDT

On Tue, 8 Sep 2009 07:57:58 -0600 wjp <> writes:
> Dave:
> You say the nature vs nurture debate was "bunk."
> But I don't think the issue is so easily dismissed.
As it was set up, it was an either-or. Since it is a combination, that's

> At issue is the nature of man.
> To what extent is man free? What determines or influences
> the character of a person? What is the source of value?
> All questions at the heart of racial hygiene.
If there is human freedom, then it cannot be strictly nature, which
rejects freedom. On the other hand, there is a personal modification of
what one takes from the environment.

> In one sense whether you consider nature or nurture as
> determinative,
> you might support an non-democratic society. This is why the Nazis
> were socialists, non-democratic socialists.
If either nature or nurture, or a specific combination of the two, were
determinative, then all societies would be pretty much the same. However,
there have been varied approaches over time. Some of it has been the
product of a person who. with the help of a group of bullies devoted to
him, dominates the larger group through indoctrination and fear. One must
note that the dictatorship of the proletariat gave no voice to the
proles, but total control to a dictator.

> Inasmuch as humans are no more than plants or other animals, we
> expect
> good genetics and proper environment to grow the "best" crop.
> This is what leads to authoritarian states.
> It is the desire to achieve and nourish what is valuable.
In other words, it cannot be that someone recognizes the ability to grasp
power. But where can you point to a general movement without a dictator?

> The supreme value of a democratic society is individual freedom. It
> is not good
> character, or brave and noble souls.
> Inasmuch as we believe that freedom will tend to such valued ends,
> it entails
> a certain view of the nature of man.
> Perhaps that view is pseudo-Rousseauian, wherein we see man in his
> natural state as
> free and good. It is the constraints and taint of society that draw
> him into sin.
> Or perhaps we believe that it is only free men who can truly be
> noble and brave,
> and that we risk thieves and murderers is unavoidable.
But the genius of the American experiment is that no individual or group
can be trusted with unchecked power, so there are three branches of
government with constitutional restrictions. This is hardly Rousseauian.

> The point is not wholly clear to me, but it, nonetheless, seems
> fundamental.
> The issue is close at hand and never far away, and yet can shift
> quickly
> like two attractors.
> The time and people of Nazi Germany are not overly different from
> ourselves
> and our times. If anything, the role of nature has become more
> firmly
> established and studied today than then. The role and place of
> human freedom
> is likewise more eroded today than then.
> As you say, we currently believe nurture to have a significant
> effect today.
> And nature is more flexible today than then. I don't see either of
> those
> changes as encouraging. Both argue for the physical determination
> of
> character and behavior. So now we have genetic engineering and
> don't speak
> of selection for race. Is that an hopeful change? Now we commonly
> hear
> of the importance of endorphins, or early childhood education.
> What is that about, but the creation of the brave new world, the
> perfect
> child and the perfect society.
Where do you get the idea that nature is now more flexible? This would
mean serious evolutionary change over decades. Seems to me that you are
turning Rousseau on his head, instead of social deterioration of the
noble salvage you propose perfection produced by social development. Such

> There appears to be a tension between individuals and society.
> To what extent is the individual a creation of society? It is an
> existentialist question. Our desire as a society to create the
> perfect
> world entails a science of man and the world. It is the science of
> man
> that drove the Nazis. Science turning its gaze upon mankind.
> The wild and woolly world of individual freedom stands in opposition
> to
> the suburban dream. The tension is evident in the national
> healthcare debate.
> And where in this is Jesus? Perhaps, as always, at the Cross,
> tearing reality
> asunder, in the split between heaven and earth, the eternal and the
> temporal,
> the universal and particular.
My Lord asked if he would find faith (could also mean faithfulness) when
he comes (Luke 18:8). It doesn't sound utopian.
Dave (ASA)

> Got to go. God bless us all.
> bill
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Received on Tue Sep 8 17:21:25 2009

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