Reproduction, Race, and Gender in Philosophy and the Early Life Sciences

Edited by Susanne Lettow

Subjects: Philosophy And Biology, History Of Philosophy, Philosophy, Gender Studies, Feminist Philosophy
Series: SUNY series, Philosophy and Race
Paperback : 9781438449487, 300 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438449494, 300 pages, March 2014

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Table of contents

Susanne Lettow

Part I. Reproduction and the Early Life Sciences
1. Generation, Genealogy, and Time: The Concept of Reproduction from Histoire naturelle to Naturphilosophie
Susanne Lettow
2. Organic Molecules, Parasites, Urthiere: The Controversial Nature of Spermatic Animals, 1749–1841
Florence Vienne
3. The Scientific Construction of Gender and Generation in the German Late Enlightenment and in German Romantic Naturphilosophie
Peter Hanns Reill
4. Zeugungl Fortpflanzung: Distinctions of Medium in the Discourse on Generation around 1800
Jocelyn Holland
5. Treviranus’ Biology: Generation, Degeneration, and the Boundaries of Life
Joan Steigerwald
Part II. Articulations of Race and Gender
6. Skin Color and the Origin of Physical Anthropology (1640–1850)
Renato G. Mazzolini
7. The Caucasian Slave Race: Beautiful Circassians and the Hybrid Origin of European Identity
Sara Figal
8. Analogy of Analogy: Animals and Slaves in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Defense of Women’s Rights
Penelope Deutscher
9. Reproducing Difference: Race and Heredity from a longue durée Perspective
Staffan Müller-Wille
10. Heredity and Hybridity in the Natural History of Kant, Girtanner, and Schelling during the 1790s
Robert Bernasconi
11. Sexual Polarity in Schelling and Hegel
Alison Stone
About the Contributors

Investigates the impact of theories of reproduction and heredity on the emerging concepts of race and gender at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries.


Focusing on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this volume highlights the scientific and philosophical inquiry into heredity and reproduction and the consequences of these developing ideas on understandings of race and gender. Neither the life sciences nor philosophy had fixed disciplinary boundaries at this point in history. Kant, Hegel, and Schelling weighed in on these questions alongside scientists such as Caspar Friedrich Wolff, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, and Karl Ernst von Baer. The essays in this volume chart the development of modern gender polarizations and a naturalized, scientific understanding of gender and race that absorbed and legitimized cultural assumptions about difference and hierarchy.

Susanne Lettow teaches philosophy at the University of Paderborn, Germany.


"The editor declares that the co-emergence of concepts of race and gender in the period here examined was not just a question of simultaneity, noting that rarely have they been examined in relation to each other. This prompts us to expect that the contributions will focus on this interrelation. But not all of the contributions address this concern, remaining content to develop interesting new aspects of one or the other of these concepts in isolation from the other. For all that, we are indebted to the contributors for taking up the difficult challenge the subject presents." — Isis

"This collection contributes to an increasingly important issue in philosophy and the history of ideas, examining the emergence of the interrelated discourses of reproduction, 'race' and gender." — Radical Philosophy