We explain what eugenics is and what is the history of this branch of philosophy. Also, who is considered the father of eugenics.
What is eugenics?
Eugenics is a branch of philosophy that is responsible for “improving, advancing and applying” natural selection (Darwinian theory that emerged in the nineteenth century). This science aims to eliminate all living beings whose genetics are defective or incorrect.
Eugenics, even if only a movement originated in the nineteenth century , has been practiced long before. The Spartans are an example.
The Spartans were a rigorous and demanding people. The children of the town had to be exposed to a great physical-mental aptitude test.
- In the first instance, newborn children were evaluated by their body.
- If they suffered from any deformation or alteration in the body, they had to be sacrificed.
- “Defective” babies had to be thrown into a mountain.
- If they passed this first exam, the children were removed from their homes and prepared to train psychologically and physically. In this training they were subjected to famine, states of intense thirst and dissatisfaction and before the breaking of a rule and / or code, they were captured and heavily punished.
A long time later, in the period of World War II , a eugenics appears that had repercussions throughout the world: Nazi eugenism . This type of eugenics placed above all things the persistence of the race, denigrating and discriminating against other people or groups of people, as was the case with the Jews. The Jews were seen by the Germans as totally inferior people. This was because they were a people who lived in Nazi Germany and had their own characteristics; a “cause” to be the target of discrimination and persecution of the Germans.
The characteristic that stands out is the non-recognition of the Jews as persons by the Germans , and the imposition of the lineage on another “race.” The Germans were totally ruthless with this issue. They took their xenophobia to the limit of using torture (such as gas chambers and incarceration, or taking prisoners with no basis other than “another race”) to humiliate, devalue and ultimately eliminate them.
Another historical moment and place, where a town was subjected to a eugenics was in Sweden. In this place, when the year was 1922, the ruling parliament accepted the creation of a national institute that was specified in the study of the races (National Institute of Biology of the Races).
The experiment conducted by the National Institute of Race Biology was based on taking photographs , measurements and information to about 100,000 Swedes. The results of this experiment were published near the year 1926, headed by Professor Herman Lundborg, the main representative and activist of the organization.
The father of eugenics
Francis Galton, born in 1822 and died in 1911 , was an English doctor who is considered the father of eugenics. Cousin of Charles Darwin, he was the promoter and creator of the first hypotheses to improve the race.
This idea came up when Galton was trying to improve the race of racehorses , quoted in a lot of money during the time (and currently). As his idea of racehorse breeding had worked, he wanted to apply it to humans and thus improve the breed.
Francis founded the London Eugenics Laboratory in 1904 , where he created a strategy that recognized the social variables located under the power and control of the State . All this was in order to prevent the racial characteristics of future generations from being affected, both mentally and physically.
Also, Galton said that he should choose marriages, ordering to marry those couples of the same social class . In this way, it would improve society .
If we start analyzing this “science”, or just knowing it is enough, we can see that it is quite dark. To a certain extent, only part of the behavior is justified by the lack of knowledge about how genetics works.
On the other hand, there is a point that is unjustifiable, and that alone is one or a set of bad actions: racism . Racism is applied throughout history ; either the enslavement by England as the current discrimination against black people.
The current theories that stand for or against eugenics are under discussion . For example, there is a theory about the best development of people in society, with a population that has a higher percentage of healthy people. On the opposite side, we can see that many scientists argue that it is ethically wrong to artificially select the possibility of life. In addition to these theories, there are mixed positions, where new ideas are proposed, it is in favor of certain things and against others, etc.
In a deeper analysis of the subject, we can see that the countries that developed more rapidly (England, Germany and, in part, France) are those that have the greatest features of eugenics and / or racism. This is mainly because, because they were the first major civilizations, they tried to dominate the other races or primitive civilizations.