30.9.14

FRANZ BOAS & RACIAL REALISM

Franz Boas was a professor at Columbia University and is considered to be the "father of American anthropology." Today, Boas is championed by multiculturalists for allegedly fighting "scientific racism." The truth, however, was that Boas did not believe the races were equal in mental capability, and he considered the white race to possess a superior ability to lead.

On anatomical differences causing mental and behavioral differences:

"It does not seem probable that the minds of races which show variations in their anatomical structure should act in exactly the same manner. Differences of structure must be accompanied by differences of function, physiological as well as psychological; and, as we found clear evidence of difference in structure between the races, so we must anticipate that differences in mental characteristics will be found... As all structural differences are quantitative, we must expect to find mental differences to be of the same description, and as we found the variations in structure to overlap, so that many forms are common to individuals of all races, so we may expect that many individuals will not differ in regard to their faculty, while a statistical inquiry embracing the whole races would reveal certain differences. Furthermore, as certain anatomical traits are found to be hereditary in certain families and hence in tribes and perhaps even in peoples, in the same manner mental traits characterize certain families and may prevail among tribes. It seems, however, an impossible undertaking to separate in a satisfactory manner the social and the hereditary features. Galton’s attempt to establish the laws of hereditary genius points out a way of treatment for these questions which will prove useful in so far as it opens a method of determining the influence of heredity upon mental qualities." (Boas, 1974, p. 239)
The races are not equally gifted:
"We have shown that the anatomical evidence is such, that we may expect to find the races not equally gifted. While we have no right to consider one more ape-like than the other, the differences are such that some have probably greater mental vigor than others. The variations are, however, such that we may expect many individuals of all races to be equally gifted, while the number of men and women of higher ability will differ." (Boas, 1974, p. 242)
On larger scull size and superiority of whites in leadership:
"We find that 50 per cent of all whites have a capacity of the skull greater than 1550 cc., while 27 per cent of the negroes and 32 per cent of the Melanesians have capacities above this value. We might, therefore, anticipate a lack of men of high genius, but should not anticipate any great lack of faculty among the great mass of negroes living among whites and enjoying the advantages of the leadership of the best men of that race." (Boas, 1974, pp. 233-234)
On when whites begin to surpass blacks in intelligence:
"When we compare the capacity for education between the lower and higher races, we find that the great point of divergence is at adolescence and the inference is fairly good that we shall not find in the brains of the lower races the post-pubertal growth in the cortex to which I have just alluded." (Boas, 1974, p. 234)
On mental and physical differences between Blacks and Whites:
"I do not believe that the negro is, in his physical and mental make-up, the same as the European. The anatomical differences are so great that corresponding mental differences are plausible. There may exist differences in character and in the direction of specific aptitudes. There is, however, no proof whatever that these differences signify any appreciable degree of inferiority of the negro, notwithstanding the slightly inferior size, and perhaps lesser complexity of structure, of his brain; for these racial differences are much less than the range of variation found in either race considered by itself." (Boas, 1974, pp. 328-329)

SOURCES:

Boas, F. (1974). A Franz Boas Reader. The Shaping of American Anthropology, 1883-1911, G.W. Stocking Jr. (ed.), Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Peter Frost. 'The Franz Boas You Never Knew.' The Unz Review. Unz.com. July 13, 2014.