I have a new essay up at Liberal Currents in which I respond to the charge that the Enlightenment saw the birth of modern racial theorizing. Thanks go to Adam Gurri for getting me to write it and for him and others at Liberal Currents for giving plenty of comments along the way.
“Race as we understand it—a biological taxonomy that turns physical difference into relations of domination—is a product of the Enlightenment.
In the piece, I take issue with this claim and provide evidence both of racial theorizing predating the Enlightenment and that modern scientific racism did not fully emerge until the 19th century, when it drew less on Enlightenment ideas than on Counter-Enlightenment thought.
In their eagerness to damn the Enlightenment, modern progressives neglect the contribution to racial theorizing of numerous Counter-Enlightenment thinkers from Joseph de Maistre to Thomas Carlyle.