Environmental Determinism

By Lisl Walsh | November 2, 2018

As Benjamin Isaac concisely stated in a 2016 piece in Eidolon,[i] the “pseudo-scientific roots” of American racism can be traced back to Ancient Greek theories of human difference. A crucial text quoted at length by Isaac is Airs, Waters, Places . Preserved as a medical document in the Hippocratic Corpus , this treatise argues that climate has a strong influence on human biology and human society: some climates are conducive to bodily health and social flourishing, while others are conducive to disease and lack of ‘civilized’ society. Isaac cites this text as foundational for the later development of theories of race:

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