Justin E. H. Smith
Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference
Race in Early Modern Philosophy
Princeton University Press 2015
New Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyNew Books Network March 2, 2016 Carla Nappi
Justin E. H. Smith‘s new book is a fascinating historical ontology of notions of racial difference in the work of early modern European writers. Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy (Princeton University Press, 2015) argues that “in order to understand the forces that shaped thinking about racial difference in early modern philosophy, we must look to the philosophers’ own interest in a scientific classification and physical anthropology, with an eye to the way these projects were influenced by early modern globalization and by the associated projects of global commerce, collection, and systematization of the order of nature.” The resulting book is a thoughtful contribution to both the history of philosophy and science in early modernity, and to the modern history of concepts of race and identity, and is highly recommended to readers and teachers in both fields.