Having attempted to isolate a working definition of race by observing its traditional misinterpretations and misappropriations, we have spent a great amount of energy describing where race is not, or at least not exactly. In Chapter 1, we began by suggesting that the Greeks did not have a concept of race because their valuation of the political man precluded the need for genuine racial distinction. The conceptual tools, however, had been created and the framework built. Secondly, we noted the actual entry of the word race into Western languages, and specifically the considerable confusion that surrounded its earliest manifestations in English. Here we argued over Othello’s “race” (meaning noble lineage) as it operated in contrast to the barrage of epithets, exclusions, and bigotry that have become the hallmark of our contemporary concept of race. In this chapter, then, we will tie together the two original threads of race, the concept and the word, in the age of Enlightenment, perhaps exposing a more familiar connotation. Ultimately, the movement away from the initial linguistic confusion we witnessed in Chapter 1 brings us toward a more distinctly scientific understanding of humanity and signals a familiar, but rather new phase in racial history.
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