On Human Diversity: Nationalism, Racism, and Exoticism in French Thought,


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How can we think about peoples and cultures unlike our own? In the early modern period, the fact of human diversity presented Europeans with little cause for anxiety: they simply assumed the superiority of the West. During the eighteenth century this view was gradually abandoned, as thinkers argued that other peoples possessed reason and sensibility, and thus deserved the same respect that Westerners accorded themselves. Since that time, however, Enlightenment belief in the universals of human nature has fallen into ...