Why Do the Happy Inhabitants of Tahiti Bother to Exist at All?

  • Robert Bernasconi


Philosophy’s involvement in genocide can be usefully appraised by exploring the fact that neither Immanuel Kant nor G. W. F. Hegel advocated mass killing, but those magisterial figures in the tradition of Western thought unwittingly contributed to the formation of a culture of genocide. They did so by proposing philosophies of history that were designed to give meaning to humanity as a species, while nevertheless embracing an idea of progress from which some races were excluded because they allegedly lacked the talents that would enable them to be full participants in humanity’s future. Their findings “answered” the question of why the “white race” existed, but did little to explain the existence of the races whose historical agency had been denied. That is to say, the Kantian and Hegelian philosophies of history left unresolved the problem of finding a meaning, a place in history, for the so-called “backward” races in a world dominated by Europe.


Human Existence World History Mass Murder Mass Killing Genocide Convention 
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© Robert Bernasconi 2005

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  • Robert Bernasconi

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