Jensen and Antiracism

It’s ironic that Art Jensen is called a “scientific racist” given his avowed antiracism. Here’s Jensen’s position on race:

If you are either elated or depressed about yourself because of [racial] identification, don’t attribute this to genetics. It in fact contradicts this kind of typology which compels so many persons to identify with various groups as if the statistical attributes of the group determined their own characteristics. Racism and social elitism fundamentally arise from identification of individuals with their genetic ancestry; they ignore individuality in favor of group characteristics…. This kind of thinking is contradicted by genetics; it’s anti-Mendealian. And even if you profess to abhor racism and social elitism and are joined in battle against them, you can only remain in a miserable quandary if at the same time you continue to think, explicitly or implicitly, in terms of non-genetic or antigenic theories of humans differences. (Jensen, Educability and Group differences, 1973. Pg. 11).

Jensen is — his opinions haven’t changed — “antiracist” not merely in the sense that he opposes racial discrimination, but also in the sense that he opposes racial identification. Indeed, he maintains that the latter is anti-scientific:

“So if we are to think realistically in terms of what we know from genetics, we must recognize uniqueness and individuality… This is what must sink into our consciousness: the dissociation of our individuality, our genetic uniqueness, from our biological roles as mere transmitters of randomly segregating and recombination genetic material …These ideas are admittedly hard to grasp, especially when they come face to face with our long-conditioned proclivities towards personal possessiveness regarding our ancestry and future descendants (Jensen, 1973. Pg. 10)

This is the type of scientific-ideological — it’s difficult to characterize it as it’s a mishmash of both– anti-racism that one would expect from a diehard “anti-racist,” not a “scientific racist” — were we not living in an inverted world.

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6 Responses to Jensen and Antiracism

  1. nikcrit says:

    though i’m not too steeped in either’s philosophical views (umm, as well as their scientific work too, truth be told), I don’t think either’s are what could be fairly characterized as ‘decadent,’ at least going by the excerpts you cite here and in earlier posts. Salter’s seem germane to a solid, coherent and upstanding concept of ‘ethnic pride’ and continuity of generational ethnic interest, while jensen’s appears to allow for as muich yet stress virtuous individualistc modes of personality and developmentl; perhaps, viewed together, one’s serves as a checks-and-balances function for the other.
    Why would Salter’s view be considered more suspect (if that’s reall the case)? I could see how his view would lead to western excesess such as biological mimesis and other manifestations in the 20th-century that led to a lot of leftist philosophical critiques, but neither seems out of hand, at least in context to a lot of other bio-philosophical-‘isms’ of the last 150-or-so years, eh?

    • Chuck says:

      “Why would Salter’s view be considered more suspect (if that’s reall the case)? ”


      Well, Salter’s ideas are potentially more dangerous — and not just to the liberal consensus. Generally, my experience with ‘race-thinking’ is that the more I breathe it, the more tolerant I become of it. And the more tolerant I become of it, the more I’m willing to excuse what we might call “externalities.”
      And Salter’s ideas have more and larger externalities than Jensen’s.

      [Look, remember when we first happened on GuyWhite’s site? (I say “we” because I imagine we had a similar experience.) Try to recall the time you commented about republicans being divisive. And try to bring to your mind the level of acclimation you had, at that time, to some of the ideas we now dabble in. Your tolerance level towards them must have increased as has mine. (I wouldn’t even link to half the sites I chat on now.) Now, what of your tolerance level towards actual racism? The more I look into the various ethnic ideas, the more I’m willing to excuse or justify or rationalize some “problematic” cases. The more I’m willing to see tragic cases instead of moral outrages. And see things as complex — which isn’t always a good thing.]

  2. Kiwiguy says:

    I’d recommend ‘Conversations with Arthur Jensen’ by senior Skeptic editor Frank Miele. Jensen is probably unusual in that he seems to be able to view these things in a non-tribal manner. One thing he mentions, which is probably why he’s been able to do research in such a controversial area, is that he has a higher tolerance for criticism than most people. Most people wouldn’t be able to do that because of the risk of disapproval.

  3. nikcrit says:

    RE: “The more I look into the various ethnic ideas, the more I’m willing to excuse or justify or rationalize some “problematic” cases. The more I’m willing to see tragic cases instead of moral outrages. And see things as complex — which isn’t always a good thing.]”

    Yes, I’ve made and reflected upon the same ideological soujourn myself: Why? I think it relates to a sort-of conundrum you get at it in the above quote, specifically the part re. ‘tragic cases instead of moral outrages.” Do u recall the exchange we had, i believe at sagat’s blog, in which you posted spike lee’s clip from ‘do the right thing?” (the ethnic insult montage); in explaining your motive for doing that to another commenter, you said words to the effect that, “ethnic identity and interaction of lore may have been tragic —— but it least it was tangible, real”; as opposed to the sort-of stale and lifeless but nonetheless ‘neutral’ judiciousness of multicultarilism, which is to say, in effect, a state of ‘unreal’ socialization.
    That struck me as really nailing it, and i think that defines the difference between jensen’s and salter’s views, despite the fact that jensen’s not really perceived to be ‘multi-cultural’ in outlook, of course, by larger society, etc. (perhaps he was just registering ideological ‘cover’ for himself, as i’m sure he anticipates or has long known what kind of criticism he’s going to generate, etc.).
    To me, ultimately, both views or their polarities, are reconciliable (i hope). oddly, that Spike-Lee montage always recalled memories of my time living in Hyde Park; see, it was ‘diverse’ in the rank, official dimension of the term, yet it was NOT “p.c.” (that would define the collegiate environ 25 miles north in Evanston, at Northwestern U, in which SWPL – vanities and conceits prevailed but of course there was no literal ethnic diversity present! Anyhow, Hyde Park differs cuz it’s been diverse for generations; it’s also conservative, in the sense that U.C. long has been the home to established conservative ideology; the mix of jews, blacks and academic whites has a history, and with that comes real traditions, evident in the social fabric of the neighborhood and its social interactions, etc. So, I could say i’ve always sought the comfort of a ‘diverse’ but ‘conservative’ enclave —— one in which the interactions are ‘real’ cuz there’s a real history of involvement and exchange, rahter than just a hypothetical integrity to social belief, etc. I mean, I recall hanging out amongst local blacks, jews, those of mixed-race; nearby was chicago’s ‘Chinatown’, too; now, you’d see real neighborhoods, and as you said a “chinatown” different than that in N.E. Asia but nonetheless upholding a ehtnic tradition of its own; from there, some would be immigrant and disconnected to the neighborhood mix, but many of their kids would be enrolled at U.C., and they were part of my other jewish, black and biracial friends; we were genuninely bonded and connected, not just theoretically ‘tolerant’ of each other. yet, when, say, said Asian student/friend took me to his home in Chinatown, there was a natural courtesy and polite mindfulness of those less-acclmated Asian relatives, but also a sense of genuine acceptance of me to them, etc. Ditto for the others (blacks, biracials, jews). But the point is this: the genuineness, and the difference between hyde park and some SWPL bastion was ethnic heritage was sustained and acknowledged and not subordinated for some lifeless ’cause.’
    Anyhow, sorry for the ramble —– but this so-called rift to me really hits home and perhaps is where I’m naturally inclinded to seek some kind of balance or resolve; perhaps it’s my pity that many don’t see any room whatsoever for resolve or balance inasmuch, but since I’ve already lived in and experienced as much, I don’t agree.

  4. Kiwiguy says:

    Meanwhile, the great anti-r8cist Stephen Jay Gould gets exposed again as being less than honest.

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