Some Psychological Considerations In The Race Problem -- By: Herbert A, Miller
BSac 63:250 (April 1906) p. 352
Some Psychological Considerations In The Race Problem
Race problems are pressing hard upon most of the nations of the world. They are part of the general social question, which is growing more and more important. The first difficulty in understanding these problems is to find a clear definition of racial lines. External comparison is not enough to create a boundary between different peoples when they happen to have the same spiritual interests, i.e. the ultimate differences are psychical rather than physical. At any rate the psychophysical comparison of races is offering facts to scientific investigation in a field as yet almost untouched. Wherever there is a heterogeneous people there is need for exact knowledge of the capacities and possibilities of its constituents.
The cause of the backwardness of the so-called lower races is variously attributed to the influence of environment of all sorts, and to natural incapacity. These points of view differ so absolutely in kind that it is necessary to make an earnest effort to analyze the relation between the two, in order that energy may not be wasted in an effort to reach common conclusions from absolutely different premises. At present both opinions are chiefly based on assumptions. Each may accord with actual conditions, but each involves a very different attitude towards the course of human development: the one assuming that, in general, equal results follow equal condi-
BSac 63:250 (April 1906) p. 353
tions, and that the apparent differences are due to unequal home training, economic conditions, and social ideals; the other, that, whatever the conditions, the possibilities are not the same. Between these two extremes the discussion of the Negro, and to some extent of the Indian in the United States, has been hopelessly mangled, and upon them practical educational theories have been based. Most of the sympathizers with industrial education for the Negro believe that such education is fitted to his capacity even more than to his needs.
A knowledge of the influence of environment is necessary for the understanding of a race, but it is not fundamental in drawing race lines, since environment must act upon something, and any conclusion as to its influence involves a consideration of that upon which it acts. Other facts are brought in through anthropology, in which anatomical comparisons have been supplemented with general psychological observations which have been made, unfortunately, by men of no special psychological training, and therefore have questionable value. By a purely psychological method alone can exact scientific data be obtained on what is really a psychological problem.
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