Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate
[The Science Of Race & The Politics Of Identity] by Kenan Malik
The debate about race is back - and with a vengeance. In the past
scientific ideas of race reflected political ideas of inferiority
and superiority, whereas today it reflects contemporary notions of
diversity. Malik challenges both sides of the race debate, controversially
revealing that it is not through the scientific study of human differences
but through our political obsession with identity and diversity that
racial ideas are once more catching fire.
What Is It to Be Human?: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us (Conversations in Print)
In What Is It to Be Human? Kenan Malik challenges naturalistic explanations of
human behaviour: 'The pessimism of contemporary culture has cleared a space for a more
naturalistic vision of humanity, a vision that seeks to erase the
distinctions between humanity and nature and to deny the special, exceptional
qualities of being human.'
Advances in genetics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, psychology and artificial
intelligence have transformed the old nature-nurture debate, and established new ways of
thinking about human nature. But in attempting to understand humans in the same
language as it understands the rest of nature, Malik believes much contemporary science
ignores human subjectivity:
'Today, the idea of humans as exceptional beings is regarded as both scientifically
false and politically dangerous. I want to argue that the retreat from human
exceptionalism makes for both bad science and bad politics.'
Malik's essay is followed by responses from Maggie Gee (novelist),
Matt Ridley (science writer), Kiernan Ryan (Shakespeare scholar),
Norman Levitt (mathematician), Kevin Warwick (cyberneticist) and
Anthony O'Hear (philosopher). Finally Malik replies to his critics.
'What is it to be human?' is part of the Institute of Ideas' Conversations in Print series.
Man, Beast and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature
humans unique? Can animals think as we do? Will machines ever be conscious?
What is free will? For centuries, attempts to answer these questions have been
the stuff of theological and philosophical debate. Now scientists claim they
can solve these riddles of human existence once and for all. In doing so, they
promise to upset many of the accepted ideas about morality and human nature.
Man, Beast and Zombie is a thrillingly original and accessible book.
Huge in its reach and powerful in its grasp, it draws on cutting-edge sciences
such as evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence
to assess what, precisely, they can and cannot explain about human nature.
Kenan Malik explains the histories of these sciences (and the philosophies that
underpin them) and analyses the complex relationship between human beings,
animals and machines to explore what really makes us human.
The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society
The Meaning of Race throws new light on the nature and origins of
ideas of racial difference. Arguing that the concept of 'race' is a means
through which Western society has come to understand the relationship between
humanity, society and nature, the book re-examines the relationship between
Enlightenment thought and racial discourse, clarifies the nature of scientific
racism and presents a critique of postmodern theories of difference. It also
looks at the way in which recent social and political developments have shaped
our ideas about race, analysing illuminatingly and persuasively the end of the
Cold War, the erosion of the postwar liberal consensus and the demise of the
left-wing intellectual tradition.
Controversially, Kenan Malik argues that contemporary antiracist theories
are rooted in the same particularist philosophies that have given rise to the
idea of race. Only a philosophy based on a universalist and humanist outlook,
he suggests, can hope to transcend the discourse of race.